Ikeja is one of Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) lying on the geographical coordinates of 6° 35′ 48″ N, 3° 20′ 35″ E. This article reveals some facts about this long-standing capital of Lagos state you probably never knew.
Historically, Ikeja consists of 78 communities and the earliest settlers in Ikeja and its environs were Aworis who migrated from Ota-an Awori town in Ogun State about 24 km North of Ikeja township. It was in the wake of migration of yorubas from Ile-Ife to Ota in the 15th Century.
According to this account, Ikeja was founded by the Awori ancestors of Osoja, Amore, Maku, Afariogun and Kusheri Moses families under the leadership of the Olo with each family group settling in different but close quarters. The new settlement called Ikeja was named after Akeja-Onigorun-one of the deities worshiped at their ancestral home in Ota.
Some of the traditional settlements include Ipodo, Alausa, Olusosun, Oregun, Ojodu, Onigbongbo, Aguda-Titun, Agidingbi, Coker, Wasimi, Abule-Egun, Oke-Ira, and Keke etc. However, the population of the Aworis is now a minority, given the enormity of migration and urbanization in the area.
Though traditionally owned by the Aworis, the long historical goodwill and benefit derived up to the present day has endeared a lot of people from different ethnic nationalities working and living within the territorial boundary of Ikeja. The early settlers generally engaged themselves in farming, buying and selling of goods like clothes, agricultural produce, craftwork and others. These activities got more sophisticated with time, thereby leading to extensive business activities which have now made up the bulk of the economic life of the people.
Ikeja became the Capital city of Lagos State in 1976 after the creation of 19 States in the country and since then, there has been a tremendous development of Ikeja being the industrial and commercial hub of the State
As well as being the State Capital, Ikeja is also a Local Government Headquarter. Official census figure put the population of Ikeja at about 4.5 million people which is keenly contested by the Lagos State Government. However, A United Nation’s 2011 data suggests Ikeja is plausibly home to 11.2 million people, hence making Ikeja the most populated place in Lagos State.
Read also: What You Should Know About Ikorodu Town (1)
Notable communities in Ikeja include Ogba, Opebi, Alausa, Maryland, Anifowose, Agidingbi, Oregun, Idu-Iroko, Ipodo, Akiode and Ojodu
Like other Lagos municipalities,Ikeja has suffered from neglect, a lack of planning and over-concentration of disorganized commercial activities (which include street trading).
However, it is easily the best place on Lagos mainland to situate a business due to its strategic location and market structure. A large number of businesses mostly retail and service based businesses operate in the area. Examples include, Law firms, IT firms, Auto sales outlets, banks, boutiques, salons, supermarkets, eateries, fast foods, business centres, hotels, pharmacies, media services, travel and tour agencies, real estate firms, private schools and private medical centres amongst others.
Other government infrastructure situated in Ikeja include, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Accident Investigation Bureau of the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). Several airlines also have their head offices in Ikeja on the grounds of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. Examples include Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
An explosion in the Ikeja Military Cantonment on 27 January 2002 caused fires and panic killing over 1000 people. The Blast which has been tagged the 2002 Lagos Armoury Blast killed many of the Military base staff and their families and immediately destroyed several nearby streets, flying debris starting numerous fires further afield.
Tremors from the explosion also collapsed many buildings in the area, trapping people in the ruins and starting new fires from damaged cooking appliances. These tremors were so powerful that windows shattered 15 km away and the blast could be felt more than 50 km inland. Many fleeing people drowned in a concealed canal which was covered by hyacinth (common water weed). Much of Ikeja was kept intact, however.
A disaster fund was created to provide for those displaced in the tragedy. The government provided food, clothing, shelter and health care. The official number of displaced people was put at 20,000.
The acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the late Chief MKO Abiola lived on Opebi Road Ikeja
Ikeja can be classified as a high-class area. The heavy industrial establishment at the LGA makes it one of the most important areas for manufacturing activities in the entire federation. It also forms the hub for emergence of the proposed Megacity in Lagos.
Today, Ikeja is being classified as one of the major cities of the world especially in the Nigerian print media.With the classification of the city as model city and the development of Model City Plan for Ikeja, it will soon find its place among major economic cities of the world.
Ikeja is the official seat of the Governor of Lagos with Alausa, Ikeja as the location of the state secretariat.
To be continued…