Since her grand introduction into the Lagos metropolis, Lekki has become a haven for the high and mighty. Lekki Peninsula is an area on the Lagos Island in Nigeria which contains expensive residential suburbs that throws poverty into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Peninsula adjoins the commercial Victoria Island district and the residential Ikoyi area. It has got a reputation as an area with the most expensive real estate assets in the world yet the irony of this is that Lekki was once a deadly shanty town.
Lekki was formerly known as Maroko, a slum inhabited by poor people, before it was destroyed by the then Raji Rasaki led State Military Government in Lagos. Some of the inhabitants of Lekki don’t know the history of that area, so I guess it will be rewarding to take them through memory lane.
Some twenty five years ago, families resident in Maroko then a suburb of Lagos, were evicted from their homes ostensibly to save them from slum-related diseases and avoidable death. People of extreme low class dwellings were kicked out of their homes by heavily armed soldiers under the watch of Colonel Raji Rasaki who was supervised by then Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda.
The eviction script in the early hours of July 14, 1990 was executed with military precision and, with no intent to take prisoners. But the soldiers in their late teens were emboldened by lack of resistance from the terrified women and children to wreak havoc, blowing off roofs, kicking down doors, taking women and girls against their will like in real war scenario. It may have been their first opportunity to engage in official violence and, a rite of passage for them to lose their innocence. Families ran everywhere looking to connect members who sprang from sleep to escape the devastation. They sustained varying degrees of injury from flying roofing sheets while others drowned in uncovered wells they did not know were in their flight path. That once murky place is today known as Lekki and all that history thrown down the drain with the name Maroko.
The Lekki Sub-Region comprises a naturally formed peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean East of Lagos City and on Lagos Lagoon. It is a rapidly growing area on the coast. Its sandy beaches, including Lekki/Eleko Beach and Oso Lekki Backwaters, and relics of Brazilian/Portuguese and other imposing architecture make it a tourism goldmine. Housing in Lekki is usually in blocks of adjoining flats. Most homes are furnished with running water and electricity. A standard three-bedroom flat rents for N900,000-N2.5 million per annum.
The area is poorly served by buses and taxis as most residents have their own car. Due to its proximity to the Epe Bridge and the Lagos/Sagamu/Benin expressway, Lekki is also the gateway to southeast Nigeria. The popular Ilasan market, otherwise known as Lekki market by expatriates, sells fruit, vegetables, art and artifacts from Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. However, prices are generally higher here than in other parts of the city. The Anap Ranch at kilometre 42 on Epe Expressway sells imported Dutch stock meat (a brand of imported beef), excellent ground beef, bone/rib steaks and rump roast. Lekki also has a seaside pleasure garden and water sports.
There are two phases in the Lekki vicinity, which are Lekki phase I and Lekki phase II. Lekki phase I is considered to be one of the most expensive places to live in Lagos state. This is due to the housing developments which are being created on the Lekki phase I axis. It has been predicted by many that the Lekki peninsula vicinity will soon become the best area to live and work in Lagos.
Due to the extensive construction going on at Lekki, major destruction of the remaining pristine swamps and little wildlife habitats left in Lagos state has occurred. The only place where any conservation of nature is found is at the Lekki Conservation center, run by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) is one of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) foremost conservation project site located on the renowned Lekki Peninsula. LCC covers a land area of 78 hectare. Administratively, LCC is situated in Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State. The Lekki Conservation Centre, LCC is a conservation initiative to protect wildlife found in southwest coastal environment of Nigeria in the face of sprawling urban development. This 21-year-old conservation education centre has continued to attract both local and international interests. The Centre has served, as an education and resource centre to varieties of group’s majority of which are schools and tourists. The project has promoted environmental protection and worked against poaching by surrounding communities as well as serve as a tourist centre for local and international visitors. Continuous environmental education, awareness creation and research activities are carried out in the Reserve.
Asides the traffic, what I notice whenever I go to Lekki is the never ending construction works. What is obtainable these days is that we have a lot of Lagosians working in Victoria Island but live in Lekki. The continual commercialisation of Victoria Island, which used to be very residential, has made that inevitable. Plus Lekki does have some of the best properties in Nigeria.
Imagine an area designated for global companies to trade without taxation. An area which will include a new international air and sea port, light railway and natural parks.
Lekki is essentially a new city development, which is designed to create millions of jobs, ease the chronic congestion at present in Lagos state and provide residential accommodation to the growing upper and middle class citizens of the state.