The Nigerian Currency: Know Your Notes

The Nigerian Currency: Know Your Notes

The saying goes “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” This means your history is a vital aspect of your heritage.

In this post, we introduce you to the Nigerian currency notes and the various portraits and images on them.

Find them below:

N 5 – Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Dancers

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5 back

The N 5 note features a portrait of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and an image of drummers from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa served as the first Prime Minister of Nigeria from 1957 to 1966. During his time in office, he pushed for Nigeria’s independence by forming a coalition government which was eventually successful. On January 15, 1966, his government was overthrown in a military coup, leading to his murder and the death of many other leaders in the country.

N 10 Note – Alvan Ikoku, Fulani Milk Maids.

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10 back

Alvan Ikoku is known chiefly for his contributions to Education and hence, his portrait adorns the front of the N 10 note.Due to his apparent passion for education, Alvan Ikoku was assigned to the Ministry of Education in 1946. This was in a time when several constitutional changes were made allowing more Nigerians in the legislative chambers.

He was also instrumental to the growth of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and also championed free education for all public primary schools. His request later got the approval of the Federal Government, making public school education free since 1962.

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The Fulani milk maids have been described as one of the most beautiful women in Nigeria. They are called “milk maids” because they control local dairy production in Nigeria. Their work involves the production, extraction, and sales of milk. Perhaps this was why their images were deemed fit to adorn the ten naira note.

The N 10 note is also adorned with the logo of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

N 20 Note – General Murtala Muhammed, Ladi Kwali

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20 back

Known for his role as military ruler of Nigeria from 1938 to 1976, Murtala Muhammed played a major role in the 1960s military coup which saw the installment of Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

After becoming Head of State in 1975, he named Abuja as the new Federal Capital Territory, created seven states, and helped create policies that influenced the Oil boom. He was assassinated in on 13 February 1976.

The front of N 20 note also has the image of the Central Bank Bank emblem.

The back of the N 20 note has the portrait of Ladi Kwali, a famous potter from Northern Nigeria who was known regionally for her beautiful pots, the Central Bank of Nigeria logo, and the signatures of Charles Chukwuma Soludo (former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria) and Benjamin C. Onyido (Director of Currency and Branch Operations).

N 50 – Nigerians; Fishermen with a big catch

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50 back

The N 50 note has the portrait of several Nigerians representing the various cultures in the country. Portraying a nation rich in Agriculture, the back of the note is adorned with the catchy image of three fishermen who appear to have acquired a big catch of fish.

N 100 – Obafemi Awolowo

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new 100 back

The main features of the N 100 note include portraits of Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Front) and people dressed in traditional attires (back). Obafemi Awolowo was a statesman and Nationalist who played a key role in Nigeria’s Independence movement, the First and Second Republics, and the Civil War. Due to his contributions, he became the first individual in the modern era to be named Leader of the Yorubas (Yoruba: Asiwaju AwoYoruba or Asiwaju Omo Oodua).


N 200 – Ahmadu Bello, Pyramids Of Agricultural Produce.

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200 back

The main features of the N 200 note include an image of Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and pyramids of bags agricultural commodity, vegetables, cattle, and livestock farming. Alongside Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello played a significant role in the independence of Nigeria. He was the first premier of Northern Nigeria and also held the title of Sardauna of Sokoto.

N 500 – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Offshore Oil Rig Platform.

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Image result for 500 naira note


The N 500 note pays homage to late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, often referred to as “Zik”. He was Governor-General of Nigeria and became the first President of Nigeria in 1963 (when Nigeria became a republic). The back of the note has an image of an offshore oil rig platform depicting the oil boom.

N 1000 – Aliyu Mai-Bornu, Dr. Clement Isong, and Central Bank of Nigeria.

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The N 1000 note, which was introduced on October 12, 2005, has the engraved portraits of Alhaji Aliyu Mai-Bornu and Dr. Clement Isong, former governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria. At the back of the note is the image of the CBN’s Corporate Head Office in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.


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