Ever wondered how our founding Fathers came about the name “Naira”? An article in the Punch explains how Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo coined the name. Here is an excerpt from an interview with one of his daughters, Tokunbo;
Question: He gave the name ‘Naira’ to the Nigerian currency. How did he arrive at that name?
Ans: (Laughs…) : He just took the name of Nigeria and collapsed it to Naira. That’s what he told us and that was how he arrived at the name ‘naira’ and that was when he was the Federal Commissioner for Finance.
The interesting bit is how the syllable “Nai” is synonymous with Nigeria. This should also resonate well with a lot of younger Nigerians who also refer to Nigeria as “Naija”. So, it’s quite easy to comprehend how Chief Awolowo must have come up with the name “Naira”. Who knows, he might have actually contemplated with the name “Naija”.
Sadly though, the Naira has been under pressure in the last one year, dropping to an all time low of about N490/$1. At the time the Elder Statesman coined the term, the Naira was trading at 1:1 to the dollar.