Nigerian Currency: The History Of Naira And Kobo

by on April 29, 2020

An ideal currency should be hard, easy to count, long lasting, portable, durable, easy to recognize and difficult to counterfeit.

The eight currency notes in use in Nigeria at the moment; N1000, N500, N200, N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5, and previously used three currency coins; N2, N1 and 50k, fulfil all these criteria.

Before now, the country had issued and withdrew so many notes and coins that it might have been difficult to keep up.

Let’s take a look a trip down the memory lane. Below is a brief summary of how it also happened.

Before the British west African currency board was constituted in 1912, Nigeria already had its own currency in the form of cowries and manilas. The board was charged with issuing currency notes in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia . The notes issued were in circulation in Nigeria between 1912 and 1959.

With independence looming, The Central bank of Nigeria was established and it withdrew the West African currency notes and coins, and issued the Nigerian currency notes and coins on 1st of July, 1959. However, they were in pounds.

The currency notes were in the following denominations; Five (5) pounds, One (1) pound, Ten (10/-) Shillings, Five (5/-) shillings and coins in the denominations of Two (2/-) shillings, three (3p) Pence, One (1p) Penny and One half (1/2p) Penny.

In 1965, the legal tender status of the naira was changed to showcase Nigeria’s republican status. The denominations of Five pounds, One pound, Ten Shillings and Five shillings were reissued in different colours from those of 1959.

As a war strategy, the currency notes were changed in 1968 during the civil war. The currency notes were in denominations of Five (5) Pounds, One (1) Pound, Ten (10/-) Shillings and Five (5/-) Shillings. The coins issued in 1959 remained the same.

In April 1971 the Government announced their intentions to change to decimal currency system as from 1st January, 1973.
On the same date the CBN introduced Ten Naira (10), Five Naira (5), One Naira (1) and Fifty Kobo (50k), while the coins were Twenty Kobo (20k), Ten Kobo (10k), Five Kobo (5k), One Kobo (1k) and Half (1/2k) Kobo.

In the year 1991, Fifty (50) naira notes were issued followed by one hundred (100) naira in the year 1999. Two hundred (200) naira was introduced the following year, 2000.

In the year 2001, five hundred (500) naira note was introduced and one thousand (1000) naira note was announced in the year 2005 which is currently the highest denomination of the naira.

As at February 28, 2007 polymer notes were introduced.

The idea of the CBN was to make the notes smaller and durable. The notes affected by the CBN polymer policy were 5, 10, 20, and 50 naira notes by the then CBN governor Sanusi lamido Sanusi in 2009.

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