Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Nigeria: An Introduction to All Languages in Nigeria

By Remitbee - May 11, 2022

Introducing the Giant of Africa, Nigeria! Home to hundreds of diverse cultures, butterfly species, and rich films, you might still wonder what languages people speak in Nigeria? How many Nigerian languages are there?

Nigeria has over 525 languages spoken, making it one of the world's most linguistically varied countries. Bringing Nigeria in the spotlight, Nigeria ranked third on the list of countries with the most spoken languages in the world. An intriguing linguistic study indeed!

Nigeria Official Language

The official language of Nigeria, as the result of British colonial rule, is English. It is spoken chiefly in urban regions and less among those with lower levels of educational attainment. It is also used in education and by the government. However, it is not frequently used as a first language throughout the country. For example, only 1% of the population in the northeast speaks English well. On the other hand, 60 million Nigerians use it as a second language.

Other languages that have been around for thousands of years are the major languages in Nigeria in terms of the population of native speakers. Some of the most widely used include Nigerian Pidgin English and the three sign languages: Nigerian Sign Language, Hausa Sign Language, and Bura Sign Language.

Nigerian Pidgin

Nigerian English Pidgin is a dialect spoken in Nigeria. It has been defined as a hybrid of indigenous and English languages. It is a language formed from a mashed-up of multiple languages in Nigeria. Pidgins, unlike other languages, are mainly creative and unique. Because of their adaptability, they can be as formal or informal as needed.

The majority of people in Nigeria speak their native languages, making speakers of other languages feel uncomfortable. If you're planning a trip to Nigeria, don't be intimidated by their hundreds of languages. Pidgin is the common language that Nigerians all speak, and it is your safe haven.

Using Pidgin among Nigerians proves that you can identify with anyone, regardless of your status. If you are a foreigner, learning Pidgin can show Nigerians that you are making an effort to fit in the country.

Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Nigeria

Hausa

In Nigeria and West Africa, Hausa is commonly associated with Muslim culture. It is one of Nigeria's most widely spoken languages. Considered the Lingua Franca of West Africa, it was written in Arabic before but is in Latin Script today.

In Nigeria, Hausa is the second language of 15 million people. Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, and other states have 18.5 million native speakers.

Igbo

Originally of Igbo descent, Igbo is the native tongue of roughly 24 million people in Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo. It's also spoken in regions of Akwa Ibom, Delta, and Rivers. Many Igbo speakers can also be found in Cameroon, while it is a minority language in Equatorial Guinea.

Yoruba

Yoruba, the Yoruba people's indigenous language, is spoken by around 19 million people in Nigeria. Nigerian immigrants also speak Yoruba in the United Kingdom and the United States, making it one of the most popular Nigerian languages globally.

Fulfulde

Cattle pastoralists across the Sahel now speak it, as do the Fulani diaspora in Northern Nigeria. Kano, Katsina, Zaria, Jos plateau, and other states host 1.7 million Fulfulde speakers in Nigeria.

Kanuri

Kanuri is one of the country's most spoken languages. Borno, Yobe, and Jigawa states host 3 million native speakers. In addition, over 500,000 residents in Nigeria speak it as a second language.

Ijaw

Around 2 million people in Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, and other states speak Ijaw.

Pidgin English

Nigerian Pidgin is a mix of English and Nigerian native languages. About 3 to 5 million people speak Pidgin as their first language, mainly in the Niger Delta region.

Tiv

In Nigeria, Tiv is spoken by nearly 2 million people, mainly in Benue State. Nonetheless, it is also widely spoken in the states of Plateau and Taraba.

Ibibio

The state of Akwa Ibom is populated by 1.5 million native Ibibio speakers. Ibibio is used in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. You can hear it on the radio and television as well.

Edo

In Edo State, at least 1 million people speak Edo as their first language. It has been used since Igodomigodo, which later evolved into the Benin Empire.

Send Money to Nigeria

The vast number of languages spoken in Nigeria highlights how important language is in appreciating the country and its culture. This is the reason why Nigerian languages are one of the best languages to learn in 2021. On to the next step of your learning endeavour, are you looking for the best place to send your money to Nigeria? Remitbee transfers your money securely with its best exchange rates and 100% transparency.

Don’t miss the chance! Sign up now.

Other articles in Africa