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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 10:25 GMT
In pictures: Nigeria's new money

People holding new naira notes: 50, 20, 10 and 5 naira denominations

Lower-denomination naira notes and coins in Nigeria have had a makeover, making them smaller, lighter and more durable. Some in the capital said the notes "look like hard currency".

People scrambling to change their old notes of the Central Bank of Nigeria in Abuja

Many were eager to be the first spenders on Wednesday and abandoned their jobs and headed for the Central Bank in Abuja where they scrambled to exchange old for new.

The new 50, 20, 10 and 5 naira denominations

The bank says the new 50, 20, 10 and 5 denominations have the added bonus of being "extremely difficult to forge". Higher 1,000, 500, 200 and 100 notes remain unchanged.

A bank official holds up the new naira notes

The redesign is aimed at making business transactions easier as people have complained about having to carry heavy wads of notes and coins. $1 is equivalent to about 130 naira.

A woman holds out the new 2 and 1 naira coins

But some were still unimpressed. "The weak naira means that you will still have to carry loads and loads to buy anything," says Maureen Nweke displaying the new 2 and 1 naira coins.

People queue to exchange old money for new

But their introduction has caused controversy among Muslims because the Arabic inscriptions written in Hausa have been removed.

The new 50, 20, 10 and 5 naira denominations

The new notes have their values written in Nigeria's three major languages, Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. The old notes will be phased out after a certain period.




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