The West African Currency Board was responsible for issuing currency notes
in Nigeria from 1912 to 1959. Prior to the establishment of the West African Currency
Board, Nigeria had used various forms of money including cowries and manilas.
On 31st March, 1971, the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon announced
that Nigeria would change to decimal currency as from 1st
January, 1973.The major currency unit would be called Naira which would be
equivalent to ten shillings: the minor unit would be called kobo; 100 of which
would make one Naira. The decision to change to decimal currency followed the
recommendations of the Decimal Currency Committee set up in 1962 which submitted
its report in 1964.
The change that took place in January,
1973 was a major one and this involved both currency notes and coins. The
major unit of currency which used to be £1 (one pound) no longer exists
and the one Naira which is equivalent to 10/- (Ten shillings) has become the major
(Twenty Naira) bank-note was the highest denomination to be introduced so
far, and its issue became necessary as a result of the growth of incomes in the
country; the preference for cash transactions and the need for convenience.
The N20 (Twenty Naira) bank-note
is the first currency note in Nigeria bearing the portrait of a Nigerian citizen,
in this case, the late Head of State, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (1938-1976)
who was the torch bearer of the Nigerian Revolution of July, 1975.
He was declared a national hero on the 1st of October,1978. The note was issued
on the 1st Anniversary of his assassination as a befitting tribute to a most illustrious
son of Nigeria. On 2nd of July, 1979, new currency notes of three denominations,
N5, and N10
were introduced. These notes are of the same size i.e., 151 x 78 mm as the N20
note issued on the 13th February, 1977. In order to facilitate identification,
distinctive colors which are similar to those of the current bank-notes of the
various denominations have been used. The notes bear the portraits of three eminent
Nigerians who were declared national heroes on the 1st of October, 1978. The engravings
at the back of the notes reflect cultural aspects of the country. In 1992, both
the 50k and N1
Notes were coined. In response to expansion in economic activities and to
facilitate an efficient payments system, the N100,
bank-notes were introduced in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and
October, 2005 respectively.
Currency in Circulation (₦ m)
The above figures the last 12 captured months figures and are in millions