Nigerian naira has been through many changes. Over the years, new denominations came and went away, as the rate of naira to the U.S. dollar grew more and more unsteady. In the past decade, however, Nigerian notes and coins have acquired a more consistent look, and we want to show you the key elements that make naira special and protect it from forgeries. Check out these pictures of Nigerian currency.
Naira replaced the pound as Nigerian national currency in 1973. While initially there were banknotes for 50 kobo (1/2 of 1 naira), 1, 5, 10 and 20 naira, due to large inflation, in time, notes for 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 naira were introduced. There were also coins for 1/2, 1, 5, 10, 25 kobo. However, they soon became obsolete, and coins for 50 kobo, 1 and 2 naira were issued instead.
In 2008, there was supposed to be a redenomination of the naira, where 1 new naira would equal 100 new naira. However, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (Nigerian President, 2007-2010) decided not to use it. There were also thoughts of converting some of the smaller denominations into coins, but that also did not happen. Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is thinking about adding a 5000 naira bill.
Right now, coins for 50 kobo, 1 and 2 naira, as well as notes for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 naira, are currently in circulation. Let’s take a closer look at their features.
Nigerian currency coins
The smallest coin (by denomination) is the 50 kobo coin. It is 24.5 mm in diameter and shaped as a 12-sided polygon. The material used in making it is nickel. On one side, you can see the Nigerian Coat of Arms, the words ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ along the inside and the year it was minted written in. The reverse side has maize cobs and the ’50 kobo’ value.
The coin for 1 naira is 27.5 mm in diameter, round in shape and made out of steel plated with brass. The obverse contains the Nigerian Coat of Arms and the year of issue in the inner circle (brass-colored) with the writings ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ and ‘CBN’ in the outer circle (steel-colored). The reverse has a bust of Nigerian political leader Herbert Macaulay and his years of life (1864-1946), as well as the value of the coin in letters and number.
The coin for 2 naira is 24.5 mm in diameter, round in shape and made out of steel plated with copper. The obverse looks the same as the previous one, with the exception that the outer circle of this coin is copper-colored. The reverse contains the image of Abuja’s National assembly building with the large number 2 on top of it and the words ‘two naira’ around it.
The most recent version of the coins were released in 2007. Even though they still exist, rarely anyone uses them due to inflation.
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Nigerian currency notes
Before we go into detail of every banknote, it would make sense to note the recurring features to not repeat them over and over again. We will go over all of the Nigerian currency pictures.
All of the notes are made of special paper covered with a mixture of chemicals to differentiate them from counterfeit bills. The print is noticeably raised, and each banknote contains a security thread, as well as a watermark. There are also features that can only be seen in ultraviolet light, like the paint color of the serial number, which changes from black to green. Each note is also covered in traditional Nigerian patterns.
Notes for 5, 10, 20 and 50 naira are very similar in style and they are all the same size (130 x 72 mm). On the front, there is a famous Nigerian person (with the exception of the 50 naira bill), the insignia of CBN, a serial number along the left side and in the bottom right corner, the value of the note in the lower left and upper right corners and two signatures on the bottom. The watermark is CBN’s insignia.
The back contains the CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA on the top, an image of traditional Nigerian people, Nigerian Coat of Arms, the outline of Nigeria filled with the colors of the National Flag in the upper left corner, the value of the note in the lower left and upper right corners and the same value spelled in four languages: Yorùbá, Hausa, Igbo and English.
The note for 5 naira is mauve and has a picture of the first Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. In the upper left corner, there is a rhomboid security symbol.
On the back, there is an image of South Eastern Nigerian Nkpokiti drummers.
The note for 10 naira is red and has a picture of Nigerian educator Alvan Ikoku. On the upper left corner, there is a square security symbol.
On the back, there is an image of Fulani milkmaids.
The note for 20 naira is green and has a picture of Murtala Muhammed, Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria. In the upper left corner, there is a circular security symbol.
On the back, there is an image of famous potter Ladi Kwali.
The note for 50 naira is blue and, unlike the previous three bills, it has four regular local people of Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa origin. At the upper left corner, there is a triangular security symbol.
On the back, there is an image of local fishermen with large fish.
Notes of higher denominations (100, 200, 500 and 1000 naira) are slightly bigger (151 x 78 mm), and they have three distinct watermarks (letters CBN, the value of the banknote and the same portrait as pictured on the front of the bill). These banknotes are mostly multicolored and covered with adapted ornamental patterns, and the value of the note is stated on the front in Arabic. They have two signatures too. On the back of each one there is the Nigerian Coat of Arms.
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There are two versions of the 100 naira note in circulation right now. The older version features the premier head of Western Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo, on the front, as well as ‘Central Bank of Nigeria’ and ‘One Hundred Naira’ written in cursive.
The back shows the image of the Zuma Rock and several value details.
The new version issued to commemorate the centenary differs in a way that there are images of palm fruits and cotton on the bottom, but no value of the note in Arabic.
However, on the back, you can find the translations of the amount in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo in small print. Instead of the rock, there is now a depiction of traditionally dressed happy people, and a QR-code that takes you to the website about the centenary.
The new banknote also features numerous anti-forgery measures, such as OVMI Spark, a see-through element, scattered fibers and a motion thread.
The 200 naira note features Ahmadu Bello, first premier head of Northern Nigeria, on the front, as well as ‘Central Bank of Nigeria’ and ‘Two Hundred Naira’ written in cursive.
The back shows the image of a pyramid of sacks, some assorted fruits and cattle. Both front and back have the value note in every corner of the bill.
The 500 naira note features the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, on the front, as well as ‘Central Bank of Nigeria’ and ‘Five Hundred Naira’ written in cursive.
The back shows an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. Like on the 200 naira bill, both front and back have the value in every corner of the note.
The 1000 naira note features the first and second Governors of CBN, who are both indigenous, Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu and Clement Isong, on the front.
The back shows an image of CBN’s headquarters in Abuja. This bill has the most security measures: scattered fibers, colors that change in the ultraviolet light, a security thread, gold foil and others.
Even though most of these notes and coins are rather useless nowadays due to inflation, they depict the history and national pride of Nigeria. We will be waiting for what comes next, be it redenomination or the issue of new bills, we'll tell you all about it! But for now, enjoy these Nigerian currency images.
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