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Dozie Ethelbert 1

Nigeria is a multi-lingual and traditional entity, but there are words which are peculiar across regions and different languages. Though the general language (wazobia language) in Nigeria is ‘Pidgin English’, which everyone whether educated or uneducated no matter the interior region where you meet the person, you can still communicate with the person.

Some of these words or slang had developed as a result of happenings, a local language, English words or just a word that its root cannot just be traced.
Recently, some slang had come to be popular as a result of celebrities promoting them in their songs, movies or as comedy skits.

Nigerians being hilarious people, we have seen some slang come up recently as a result of mistake from top figures in the Nigerian society.

Some of the popular slang that has been viral recently is;
‘My Oga at the top!’, ’There is God oo!’, ‘Transmission Comission’, ‘Na dem dey rush us’.

Now, let’s look at some slang that has been used over the years.


1. 419
Every Nigerian knows you are talking about a fraudulent act or a fraudulent being.
When something is referred to as 419, it is condemned and perceived to be dubious and wouldn’t last or does not exist.
It was said that this might have originated from section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code which deals with ‘advance fee fraud’.
This advance fee fraud came rising in Nigeria in the 80’s during the second republic.
Another word that could mean scam or fraud in Nigeria is Wayo.

419 by EFCC (Soure; Nairaland)


When the word, ‘Agberro’ is mentioned in Nigeria, everyone knows you are referring to louts.
Often perceived as those young men who cannot do something better with their lives and would want to collect money from drivers at the park, along the roads or streets.
Sometimes government tax force group is referred to as ‘Agberro’.


‘Ajebo’ is a word given to pampered kids in Nigeria. When you see them they look soft and fragile. They act with so much caution and care.
Most times, people refer to young ladies who take so much care of themselves as an ‘ajebo’.
This is a shortened form of ‘Ajebota’.
This word most likely has a Yoruba trace.


‘Apollo’ is a common name for the ‘pink eye’ disease known as ‘conjunctivitis’ in medicine.
I wouldn’t know if the use of this word has anything to do with the Greek god, ‘Apollo’ who is the patron god for the sun, light, music and prophecy. This god is also a patron god for shepherds.
In as much as the god Apollo can bring good health, it is believed that it can cause ill-health and plague. Perhaps it might have been the reason why the pink eye disease is popularly known as ‘Apollo’ in Nigeria.


Ashawo is a regular word in Nigeria that means prostitute or prostitution if it’s the act. It is an offensive word.
The male folks in heated banter of words often call young ladies ashawo.



This word means free things or bonuses.
Of late, it has been used in tele or radio business promotions as side benefits of using or purchasing a particular brand or products.
“Awoof dey purge belle” had become a cliché with Nigerian youths.




The plaid Chinese plastic bag is called ‘Ghana must go’ in Nigeria. This name is so popular that no one had come to know its original name.
This name dates back to 1983 when there was massive expulsion of West Africans most especially Ghanaians (say about 1 million men, women and children) from Nigeria. This was an executive order made by Shehu Shagari, the then president of Nigeria in relation to immigrants who did not have complete documents leaving in Nigeria at the era of oil boom.
This bag was said to have been used mostly by Ghanaians during this massive exodus, hence the name ‘Ghana must go’.

Ghana Must Go Bags


8. ITK
This stands for ‘I too know’. This is particularly used for people who show themselves so much in classes showing the over sabi attitude.
In long boring lectures, this people can be shout down whenever they stand to ask long questions or make contributions. You’d hear people calling ‘ITK’ amidst other names in this type of situation.
A collection of them is known as ‘ITKs’.


Jolli is from the word Jollification which has been made to sound more Nigerian than its original English word.
Just as it implies in English, Jolli still means to make merry or partying. The word Jolli has been popularized by Nigerian musicians in recent time.


10. OGA
Oga is overly popular word that I think the Oxford dictionary should have in its collections of words as a root word from Nigeria.
Oga means ‘boss’ to a Nigerian. This word has been used for hilarious reasons; some persons would call a female boss as ‘Oga madam’.


11. NACK
When you tell someone, “nack am well”, you have simply asked the person to hit it well.
To nack simply means hit! This word maybe be pidgin generated.


Okada is a popular name for commercial motor-cyclist which is used in some roads in Nigeria.
The name ‘Okada’ was gotten from the then popular airline, ‘Okada air’ owned by Chief Gabriel Igbinedion who was from Okada town in Edo state Nigeria.
It was nicknamed so in Lagos because of its ability to manoeuvre traffic.

Okada on duty in Lagos


This word maybe not so popular across the country. But it had started gaining popularity in recent time, especially with its use across higher institutions.
‘Shayo’ means to drink or to be drunk. Sometimes it could be used interchangeably for smoking.
Another word that could stand in this place is ‘SHACK’.
But it wouldn’t be a word hard for a Lagosian to understand what you are talking about.
This slang would be said to be popular when Bigiano released a hit track Shayo in 2009.


14. WAKA
This slang would mean to walk. An addition to this word would determine the pace which whomever telling you is expecting you to do so.
When someone says, “waka waka”, it means aimless movement.


15. YEYE
‘Yeye’ means a stupid or unserious person.
Though the word can be used as a casual joke and may not be used in serious situations.
Comic beings may often be called a ‘yeye’ person in a typical Nigerian setting.




There are many of these words when you come to Nigeria, but we have chosen to select 15 of them all. You could drop a popular slang from your location and what it means at the comment section.

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[…] 15 MOST COMMON SLANG IN NIGERIA October 27, 2018 […]