Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with a population of over 211 million people. It is located between Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, is the second largest metropolitan area in Africa. Nigeria was home to several pre-colonial states and kingdoms, with the Nok civilization marking the first unification of Nigeria. Its current state was shaped by British colonization, when Britain merged the North and South Nigeria Protectorates. Even though the British set up most of the administrative and legal structures in Nigeria, traditional chiefdoms still managed and ran the government. The country gained formal independence in 1960.

Map of Nigeria
Source: AS

Nigeria is the last former British colony to abandon the pound/shilling/pence system. It decimalized its currency in 1973, changing the pound to naira. The naira was introduced at a rate of 2 naira per pound. Currently, one naira is equivalent to 100 kobo. The word “naira” was originates from Obafemi Awolowo from the word Nigeria.

The Central Bank of Nigeria is the sole issuer of Nigerian banknotes. It was established in 1958 and began operations on July 1, 1959.

First Naira Banknotes In Nigeria

De La Rue is the printer of the first series of naira banknotes. Portals, UK is the manufacturer of the paper it uses. In addition these notes feature the Central Bank of Nigeria building in front and economic activities at the back. These notes also have graduating sizes, solid security threads, and eagle watermarks.

1977 Issues

The second series of naira notes honor Nigerian heroes and culture. The notes also have the same dimensions.

The 20 naira note is the first note of the the series. It was issued on the first anniversary of the assassination of Murtala Ramat Muhammed, the general who led the coup overthrowing the Republic of Nigeria and institutionalized military presence in politics. His portrait is on the front side of the note while the national emblem is shows on the reverse. The note has an eagle watermark, solid security thread, and dimensions of 151 mm by 78 mm.

Nigeria 20 Naira | 1977 | P-18c |
Source: Banknote World Educational

1984 Issues

The military administration took over the government in December 1983. Also at that time, there was rampant currency trafficking. To counter this, the Central Bank of Nigeria issued new colored notes. For example the 50 naira note was added in 1991, after the problem was resolved. As of 2007 this series of banknotes no longer circulates.

1991 Issue Banknotes In Nigeria

Inflation rates skyrocketed in the early ‘90s. As a result the inflation rate jumped from 13.01% in 1991 to 44.59% in 1992, and steadily hit an all-time high at 72.84% in 1995. As a result the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced new denominations: 100 naira, 200 naira, 500 naira, and 1,000 naira.

200 Naira | 2000 | P-29a |
Source: Banknote World Educational

Modern Issues (2006)

The first polymer note of Nigeria is the green 20 naira note from 2007. In addition in 2009, smaller denominations—5 naira, 10 naira, and 50 naira—also switched to polymer.

The Central Bank of Nigeria issued the first note to incorporate a Quick Recognition (QR) code into its design. Also the commemorative 100 naira note celebrates Nigeria’s 100th anniversary in 2014. Its obverse side honored Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the former Premier of Western Region and also a key member in the movement for Nigeria’s independence. Also a cotton boll, coconuts, and a green-to-purple manilla SPARK has presence on the obverse side.

Nigeria 100 Naira | 2014 | P-41 |
Source: Banknote World

Meanwhile, the reverse side of the note depicted five Nigerians in native dresses dancing and playing instruments. The reverse side also had the QR code, primitive animal figures and leaves, the national emblem, and cowrie shells. In addition the security features of the note included a coconut registration device, a motion windowed security thread with the Nigerian flag and 100, and a watermark of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and electrotyped 100 CBN. The note measured 151 mm long and 78 mm wide. When you scan the QR code, the code directes the scanner to a website that tells you the centenary story of Nigeria.       

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