With a population of over 21 million people who are mostly immigrants, Lagos state is the most populous state in Nigeria and arguably the commercial nerve centre of a country that is yet to fulfill her full potentials. This article showcases top 10 landmarks in Lagos that many may want to overlook.
Lasgidi, as some youngsters would prefer to call it, is home to every Tom, Dick, Harry, and if you transverse the nooks and crannies of the city, you may just find a Maria.
Until Abuja became the federal capital territory of the most populous black nation in the world in 1991, Lagos was the major city to live and work in.
Though, it now shares the spotlight with some other cities in Nigeria, Lagos remains the busiest and the fastest growing city in Nigeria.
With a host of tourist attractions, fascinating landmarks, event and resort centres that make Lagosians look forward to a public holiday, the city of excellence is usually a place to be during festivities.
If there is a place in Nigeria where you can have a full dose of social life, then Lagos should be your destination, there is no gainsaying about that.
As the nation celebrates 56 years of independence from her British colonial watchdogs, here are top 10 landmarks in the city of hustlers, we think you should be one way or the other to celebrate Independence day (October 1st)
1. National Arts Theatre, Iganmu
The edifice called, National Arts Theatre, Iganmu was constructed in 1977 by the administration of the then Head of State of Nigeria, Major General Olusegun Obasanjo. The breathtaking landmark was erected to mark the Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC).
Despite calls from well-meaning Nigerians for a face-lift, the National Arts theatre established to celebrate performing arts and cultural festivals in the country, continues to suffer neglect from the government.
That notwithstanding it remains the pride of the nation and one of the best architectural masterpieces in the world.
2. Tafawa Balewa Square
The Tafawa Balewa Square hosted the nation’s maiden independence day celebration when it was just a race course for horse riders, and until recently when the event was moved to Eagle square Abuja, the square continued to play host to dignitaries within Nigeria and around the world on October 1.
The Square was constructed in 1972 in memory of Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, the first prime minister of Nigeria. Also known as TBS, the square can easily accommodate over 50,000 people – having been built on a former horse-racing course.
The square boasts of splendid monuments which include horse statues, the 26-storey Independence House built in 1963, and the Remembrance Arcade constructed to honour veterans and victims of the WW1 and WW2.
Religious organizations hold gatherings at this square and the state government also uses it for social events, while private businesses use the square to promote music concerts and other jamborees. It is also the venue for the Annual Lagos International Trade Fair. This year’s edition will kick off in November.
3. National Stadium, Surulere
The National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos, was constructed in 1972 with a capacity to seat over 50,000 sports audiences. The foremost sports facility in the state had been overused in the past as a site for hundreds of national and international competitions, until the Abuja National Stadium was constructed.
The stadium was one of the major stadia used for the African Nations Cup of 2000 and Nigeria 99, U-21 FIFA World Cup.
The late Samuel Chukwuma Okwaraji played his last match and drew his last breath in the National Stadium, Surulere in 1989. Samuel Okwaraji – a former National team player and lawyer died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a world cup qualification match against the Palancas Negras of Angola.
4. Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Formerly known as the Lagos International Airport, this international airport was renamed after General Murtala Muhammed – a former Nigerian Head of State, who was murdered in 1976 by Lt. Colonel Buka Suka Dimka barely six months into his reign in office.
Most air travellers arriving Nigeria come in through the MMIA, and most leave the country through this same airport. Though the economic recession that is plaguing the country is taking its toll on the airport, It is still the busiest airport in the country
MMIA consists of an international and a domestic terminal, located 1km away from each other. This airport is a sight to behold – especially at night when international travelers are landing or taking off, and a place where brisk business ever goes on between travelers and others at the terminals.
5. The Third Mainland Bridge
The Third Mainland Bridge, constructed by Julius Berger during the administration of Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida used to be the longest bridge in Africa, but the October Bridge in Cairo after its completion in 1996 took away that pride.
The Bridge which was built in 1990 connects Lagos mainland to Lagos Island. It is an 8-lane bridge and one of the busiest in the state with thousands of vehicles passing it every day. It is one of the famous landmarks in Lagos, and a place you shouldn’t miss if you ever find yourself in Lagos. But if you are a Lagosian and you are yet to come across The Third Mainland Bridge, then something must be wrong somewhere. Simply put, you were never in Lagos in the first place.
6. Tinubu Square
This is one of the numerous structures in Nigeria that is named after a legend, Madam Efunroye Tinubu, a powerful female aristocrat and slave trader in feudal Nigeria who hailed from Abeokuta, Ogun state.
She became the first Iyalode of the Egba clan and was able to build a small financial empire through trading in arms and salt.
She founded a trading family that still thrives in business today. Tinubu Square on Lagos Island, a place previously known as Independence Square, is named after the late Oloye. Ita Tinubu (Tinubu’s precinct or Tinubu Square) had been known by that name long before the country’s independence, but it was renamed Independence Square by the leaders of the First Republic.
The Tinubu Square is beside Broad street at CMS, Marina, Lagos, and remains one of the famous landmarks in the state till today.
7. Lagos Lagoon
The Lagos lagoon is an extension of the Atlantic Ocean in Lagos and averagely used by barges and boats instead of larger ocean-liners. The lagoon is over 50km long and 3-13km wide, and separated from the ocean by about 2-5km space of sand which makes it a distinct body of water on its own. Although, the lagoon has suffered from pollution over the years, it is still a major landmark in Lagos and one that continues to attract tourists and outdoor enthusiasts during festive periods.
8. Freedom Park
The popular Freedom Park, Lagos is located in Ikoyi and is one of its landmark sites. Formerly called the Ikoyi Prisons, Freedom Park Lagos, born out of the ruins of Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prisons, was reconstructed to preserve the history and cultural heritage of the Nigerian People.
Freedom Park Lagos is a National Memorial, a Historical landmark, a Cultural site, Arts and Recreation centre. The project commemorated the 50th anniversary independence celebration in October, 2010 in remembrance of the Nation’s foremost fathers for their patriotism which ultimately led to the Nation’s Independence from colonial masters.
9. Taiwo Olowo’s Monument
This monument was built to immortalize the memory and achievements of Chief Daniel Conrad Taiwo, who died in 1901. Located on Broad Street and close to Mandilas House and the Continental House in Lagos, this huge memorial has become a facility where people could hold official functions and other social events during festive periods. It is one of the longest surviving landmarks in Lagos and tourists are welcome to snap photographs after obtaining necessary permissions for this.
10. Lekki Conservation Centre
Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) is a 78-hectare (190-acre) Natural Resource Conservation in Lekki, Lagos State.
The centre was established in 1990 to serve as biodiversity conservation icon and environment education centre. In order to start the conservation project, three potential areas were surveyed in 1987 by NCF technical team in partnership with the defunct Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative. Thereafter, Lekki area was chosen to establish the demonstration site for the conservation project. Locating the conservation project on Lekki Peninsula informed the name of the project – Lekki Conservation Centre. The Centre was established by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation to protect the wildlife and mangrove forests of Nigeria’s South-West coastline from the threat of urban development
There is a 21-metre-high tree house from which visitors can enjoy a scenic view of the picnic area, children’s playground, reserve and other areas where a wide variety of animals and birds roam free.