Trade has always been a fundamental part of every society since no
man is an island unto himself. Once upon a time, trade was carried out
by simply exchanging the items, that’s how we had the term:
‘trade-by-barter’. As society developed, there was need to set units of
value to make trading easier. This brought cowries and manilas on board
The last time you held ₦200, did you stop to wonder when
did Nigeria start using naira and kobo? It all started in 1912, when
our former colonial masters through the West African Currency Board
began issuing currency notes in Nigeria. The board issued Pounds
sterling (£), Shilling (s) and Pence (d).
13 years after independence, on 1 January, 1973 under the General
Yakubu Gowon military regime, Nigeria’s own indigenous currency was
issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria while the Pounds sterling issued
by the West African Currency Board was withdrawn. The new currency had a
Naira and kobo divisions, with ₦ as sign for naira, ‘k’ as sign for
kobo and NGN as code. 100 kobo made one naira (₦1).
As at the time
Nigeria withdrew the West African Currency Board notes, most of the
their colonial countries had already ditched the Board’s notes in their
countries as a sign of independence and autonomy. Then the exchange rate
of naira (₦) to pounds (£) was two naira (₦2) to one pound (£1).
then newly released legal tender came in notes and coins. There was ₦1
note, while 1/2k, 1k, 5k, 10k and 25k were coins. Although all these
have since phased out.
The desire for an indigenous currency was
born out of the need for full scale independence from the control of
former colonial masters. The government didn’t act alone, several
requests were made for contributions from the public on the name to be
given to the indigenous currency. Out of several suggestions including
‘Nira’, the ‘Naira’ and ‘kobo’ were eventually selected.
of nationalists known to have spearheaded revolutions for the country’s
independence were put on the coins and notes. Since then, the
denominations have gone up, the highest currently being ₦1000.