Why Naira Is Not Nigeria’s Currency but Nigerian Naira (NGN)

By Basil Enwegbara* 

The word “Naira” finds its origins in a village within Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh, India. While it carries a geopolitical descriptor, it remains specific to the village it signifies and is not inherently tied to Nigeria. For further information, refer to: Wikipedia.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naira,_Srikakulam_district 

Similarly, the term “dollar” traces back to a small mountain town in Northwestern Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. For insights, explore Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/wordplay/why-do-we-call-it-a-dollar. 

In 1973, Nigeria adopted the name “Nigerian Naira ” alongside its code NGN and symbol ₦. Additional details are available at en-academic.com. https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/120278 

The US government officially named its currency the “US Dollar” in 1792, with code USD and symbol US$. Explore more at Merriam-Webster. https://www.merriam-webster.com/wordplay/why-do-we-call-it-a-dollar

While the American public colloquially refers to their currency as “dollar,” the official term remains “US Dollar.” Similarly, in Nigeria, the public often uses “naira” informally, yet the correct term is “Nigerian Naira.”

Just as the US Federal Reserve refrains from calling its currency simply “dollar,” other central banks adhere to formal currency names: Hong Kong Dollar (HKD), Australian Dollar (AUD), and Canadian Dollar (CAD). Shouldn’t the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) officially refer to Nigeria’s currency as “Nigerian Naira” to avoid confusion?

The CBN’s insistence on using “Naira” instead of “Nigerian Naira” raises questions. Since “Naira” isn’t Nigeria’s legal tender, why does the CBN persist in this nomenclature?

Furthermore, the term “eNaira” lacks legal backing. It isn’t mentioned in the CBN Act of 2007 or recognized as legal tender by the National Assembly. The registration of “eNaira” under what laws, especially considering the prohibition on registering sovereign assets, warrants clarification.

In summary, the CBN’s classification of “eNaira” as a “sovereign/national asset” lacks legal basis and raises concerns regarding its registration under existing laws. Clarification regarding the sources and legality of such claims is necessary.

*Enwegbara, a development economist, writes from Abuja.

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