Languages of Nigeria


The spoken language is an integral part of any country, so are the languages of Nigeria, a country with over 520 languages. Our focus is on the most populous black nation in the universe “Nigeria”. This country can be categorized under nations that have multi-languages and we shall be taking a look at the main languages of Nigeria that you will find among the locals when you get to the country.

The official data records that there are more than 527 languages originally spoken in Nigeria. Nine of the figure stated above are already extinct. Even among tiny tribes, you will find more than one spoken language in Nigeria-it is that interesting. We shall go into the details of the major languages that are commonly spoken in Nigeria today.

Nigeria is among the top 6 countries with hundreds of languages. Check out the countries with over 100s of languages.

The Lingua Franca

Nigeria was colonized by the British. The official language spoken and accepted in Nigeria is the English language. It is the official language in all the 36 states and the federal capital territory. Due to the level of illiteracy among the locals and the desire to form a common front in communication (there are diverse tribes in Nigeria);

Nigeria’s developed an adaptation of the English language to be able to communicate effectively and they named it Pidgin English. So do not be surprised if you are an English speaking folk and you get to hear mutilation of the language among the locals in Nigeria-it is their ingenious way of effectively communicating among themselves.

That settled on the official language; let us now take a journey into the indigenous languages of Nigeria that are relevant among the major tribes today.

Indigenous languages of Nigeria

Yoruba Language

This is the language of the locals in the southwestern part of the country that is made up of seven states in Nigeria. The states are Oyo; Ogun; Ondo; Oshun; Ekiti; Kwara and Lagos. There is some boundary maladjustment done by the military junta and this is responsible for the language been found in parts Kogi state.

There are several other minority languages among the main Yoruba such as Ijesha; Ijebu; Ekiti; Ondo; Ilaje; Egba; Awori; Egun and several others. This is one of the most popular languages of Nigeria and you find it cutting across all the states of the nation because of their progressive nature.

Igbo Language

The Igbo language is also a popular language that you will find among the southeastern states in Nigeria. The language is spoken in Ebonyi; Enugu; Abia; Anambra and Imo states.

Just like what happened with the Yoruba language; boundary maladjustment is responsible for the reason why the language can be found among the locals in  Delta (Aniocha, Oshimili, and Ndokwa parts of the state), Akwa Ibom (Ika LGA), and Rivers State (Bonny, Ikwerre, and Ahoada areas of the state).

This tribe is fighting a battle to free themselves from the nation and form a tribe of their own known as Biafra.

Hausa Language

The Hausa language is also one of the major languages that are spoken in the northern part of the country. This tribe has used their long hold in power to popularize their language among the expanse called Nigeria. You will find the Yoruba; Ibo and other minority tribes speaking this language because of the political gains that they will get from it.

This language is the native of the following northern states: Kaduna, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kebbi, Zamfara, and Gombe State. Even the BBC has a section of their programming devoted to this language.

Fulfulde language

The Fulanis of Nigeria represent the Fulfulde speaking tribe of Nigeria. They have also used their access to power at the center to push forward the visibility of their language. One of them is the president of the nation- Major General Mohammadu Buhari (rtd).

They can be found in the following northern states of the country: Bornu, Sokoto, Plateau, Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina states.

Nigeria ethnic languages

Kanuri Language

The Kanuri language can be reckoned as one of the major languages of Nigeria with well over 3 million locals who speak the language. You will find this language spoken in states such as Yobe, Jigawa, and Borno. The language is also spoken in neighboring countries of Niger, Chad, and Cameroun.

Ijaw language

The Ijaw language represents a strong force to be reckoned with in the south of the country. This tribe can be found in Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, and the Bayelsa States. Efforts are been made to popularize this language through the Niger Delta University who is working on producing books in the Ijaw dialect. The Ijaw people are known for their agitation for compensation from oil companies that are exploiting crude oil on their soil.

Tiv Language

This is another language that is still waxing strong in present-day Nigeria. They can be found in Benue state and they are known for their exploits in farming; this tribe represents the food basket of the nation. This language is also part of the following states: Nasarawa, Cross River, Plateau, and FCT Abuja.

Ibibio Language

The native Ibibio speakers are located in the Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria. They have a strong representation in the political life of Nigeria and can be reckoned as one of the strong local languages in Nigeria. The language is spoken outside the shores of Nigeria in countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, and Cameroon.

Edo language

Edo language is spoken by people who can be found in present-day Edo. They are from the Igodomigodo kingdom and they represent a very strong minority among the Nigerian nation.

Urhobo Language

This language is also one of the very popular minority languages of Nigeria and the locals who speak the language can be found in delta state. They have been in a long battle of survival with the Ijaw brothers and neighbors.

Isoko Language

This is another of the minority tribes that have come to stay in the south-south of the country. They are known for the use of cutlass (called tolopia in native dialect) to settle issues when disputes break out among them and their neighbors.

Idoma Language

Mention can also be made of the Idoma language that is a minority struggling for survival with the Tiv language both of which are located in Benue state. They have contributed and are still contributing their quota to the food basket of the nation. This tribe has come to stay in Nigeria.

Igala language

Yet another minor ethnic languages of Nigeria is the Igala language and they can be found in part of Kogi State. They are predominantly farmers and migrate from their Kogi home to other parts in the south and southwest where they engage in farming activities.

Efik Language

The Effik speaking people in Nigeria are found in Cross River state and they are known for their delicacy called Edikang Ikong soup

Nupe Language

This is another very strong minority language in Nigeria that has refused to die by standing the test of time. They can be found in Niger state and are farmed, yam farmers. The major supply of yam to the southern part of the country comes from the Nupe of Niger state.

Conclusion: Languages of Nigeria

There are several other minority languages in Nigeria that has refused to die. Some of these minority languages include Gbagyi, Anaang, Berom, Esan, Jukun, Kilba, Ogu, Mumuye, Tarok, Chamba, Ikwere, Igede, Kalabari, Baribu, Ika as several others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most institutes offer courses starting from beginner level (A1) to advanced levels (C1/C2). If you’re a complete beginner, you can start with A1 level classes.

Tab Item C

The duration varies depending on the institute and the intensity of the course. Generally, A1 level can be completed in about 2-3 months with regular classes.


Languages of Nigeria
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