Most Widely Spoken Languages in Nigeria

Photo by: Ameen Elelu EyeEm

A country’s culture is incomplete without its language. Whether official or native, language upholds the heritage of the nation. Nigeria is among one of those countries that proudly holds the 3rd position among the countries with the most spoken language. Surprisingly, Nigeria is said to have over native 525 languages. Although English is the official language and popular among the city dwellers, the majority of people in rural areas use local languages. Because of globalization, these native languages may not get the popularity they need but surely holds the pride of Nigeria inside. Here are insights on some of the top most widely spoken local languages in Nigeria:

Most Widely Spoken Languages in Nigeria


Often linked with the Islamic culture of Nigeria, Hausa comes from the Afroasiatic family of languages. To this day, around 50 million inside and outside of Nigeria communicate with this language. Carrying many distinctions, the Kano Hausa, on which the written form is based, is considered as a standard.

You might be also interested to read: About Nigeria: Heritage and Indigenous History


Almost 24 million people from Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Imo states use Igbo as their native language. Igbo is one of the Niger-Congo languages. However, Igbo speakers are also found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea where it is a minority language.


Commonly known as “Ede Yoruba,” Yoruba is approximately spoken by 20 million people. It can originate back to Yoruba people, the supposed descendants of the son of a God named Oludumare. With 3 different categories, quite a several Nigerian immigrants also use this language in other countries.


Most Widely Spoken Languages in Nigeria

A member of the Atlantic section of the Niger-Congo language family, Fulfulfe is also known as Fula, Fulani, or Fulatanchi. Mainly, the Fula individuals use this language that can also be found in Cameroon, Senegal, and Sudan. On the other hand, there are at least 5 types of accents of Fulfulde used by almost 1.7 million people.


Kanuri speakers can mainly be found in Yobe, Borno, and the Jigawa States. Over 3 million local speakers from Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon use this language for daily communication. Kanuri can be recognized as one of the strong members of the Central Saharan language family.


Used by almost 2 million people, Delta, Ekiti states, Ondo Bayelsa, and Ijaw carry some distinctive tongues. Having a close relationship with 9 Niger-Congo languages, Ijaw falls under the Ijoid section of the Niger-Congo language family.


Spoken mainly in the Edo state, it comes from the Volta-Niger language family. Approximately 1 million individuals from Ed state use this language. However, in the past year, an issue about Edo being obsolete arose because of the lowered use of this language at home.


Almost 2 million people, mainly from Benue state, communicate in this language. Tiv shares a relationship with the Southern Bantoid Tivoid family of language, which is a section of the Benue-Congo language family. Taraba and Plateau states also use this language.

Nigeria is not only rich with natural resources, but the language variety of Nigeria also makes it even more significant. Though colonization and development influenced Nigeria to mainly communicate in English, the people here hold their ethnic pride through their language. These are the widely spoken languages in Nigeria.