Tips for First Time Visitors to Lagos What to Expect 1
Lagos, located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria by the Atlantic Ocean is the largest city in Nigeria, the second largest in Africa and the 27th most populous urban city in the world. It appears to be the smallest state created in Nigeria but with the largest population which is likely caused by its economic and administrative position in Nigeria. Its population according to 1991 census was 5,725,116 which the Lagos state government contested over it. The Lagos state through their internally generated figures came out with a population of 17,553,924.
The present Lagos is inhabited by Nigerians from all parts of the federation and foreigners as well. It’s still the economic supper weight in Nigeria and other West African countries and so, accommodates people from different ethnic groups who have gathered in the city to seek for greener pastures. However, there are the indigenes of Lagos state: The Ekos, The Aworis, The Ijebus, The Eguns; are the early inhabitants of Lagos.
Pre-Colonial, Colonial and post Colonial Lagos.
The Binis who founded Lagos named it Eko before the advent of the Portuguese explorer Rue De Sanqueira in 1472, who named it Lagos (derived from Lagos in Portugal).Lagos as a Portuguese slave port was captured by the British in 1851 and ten years after, it was annexed as a British Colony. The British stopped the slave trading in Lagos and took the city from the Portuguese. Lagos had been a Consul and Protectorate before the Southern Protectorate was created and the subsequent amalgamation with the Northern Protectorate. Lagos became the first capital of Nigeria and remained so until 1976 when Abuja was chosen for the new capital. However, the movement to Abuja from Lagos was completed in 1991 by the military administration of General Ibrahim Babangida.
Attributes of Lagos:
Lagos is located by the coast of the Atlantic Ocean by the bight of Guinea and therefore is blessed with natural beaches for relaxation and picnic or events. There are so many beaches that one must find the kind that he or she loves. The Bar beach alongside the Ahmadu Bello way in Victoria Island; the exotic Kuramo Beach, an extension of the Bar Beach; the Lekki Beach along Ekpe road; Akodo Beach that houses Eko Tourist Resort with apartments and all relaxation facilities; the Light House Beach in Tarkwa Bay; the Agaja and Ilase Beach and the Badagry Beaches. Along the vast stretched beach side of the Atlantic Ocean, there are many government and private resorts that could offer services that can be compared with such services anywhere in the world.
Due to its earlier association with European traders, Lagos is the largest commercial city in Nigeria with one of the largest and most busy sea ports in Africa, an International and a local airport to ease commercial activities.
Transportation in Lagos:
The current administration in Lagos state has done so much to improve transportation in the City. There is the Lagos International Airport for International flights and the Lagos Local Airport for domestic flights. The Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation apply some routes to provide a cheap transportation from the mainland to the Islands, for example between Lagos Island and the mainland. There are also a handful of private ferry operators who shuttle to few Islands further in the sea where there are no linking bridges.
The short distance transportation with Motor Bikes popularly known as ‘Okada’ is a norm in Lagos and helps so much during traffic jams when vehicles can’t move freely.
Lagos has one of the largest and extensive road networks in Africa ranging from the smooth nylon tarred roads to the pothole infected terrains. There are good road networks in Victoria Island, Lagos Island, the newly developed Lekki and its suburbs and in some part of Lagos mainland. The Third Mainland Bridge which links the mainland to the Lagos Island which had some maintenance problems had been repaired and the traffic on the Eko Bridge and Carter Bridge has reduced drastically because of the repairs done on the Third Mainland Bridge.
From the Airport, a taxi going to Lagos Island can cruise through the Oshodi mega expressway down to the Third Mainland Bridge into Lagos and Victoria Islands or down to the Lekki peninsula. In some parts of Lagos Island, Victoria Island and the Lekki peninsula, the use of the outdated rickety long buses known as ‘Molue’ which is always painted yellow and a black strip, has been banned by the state government and replaced with decent metropolitan luxurious buses. The Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) launched BRT Buses (Bus Rapid Transit) recently to further ease the problem of transportation in the City.
There are also car hires companies and taxi operators especially at the airport and hotels that can drive you to wherever you want to go in Lagos and its environs. The cost is relative cheap as there is a smart competition among the numerous operators. The good news is that recently, many banks and financial institutions have moved into the transportation business, sponsoring operators and purchasing new cars for the business. So, when taking a taxi from the airport or anywhere in the city, take your time to haggle the price; you can be surprised at the kind of bargain you will make.
Affordable hotels and restaurants in Lagos:
Apart from the luxurious five star hotels like Sheraton, Eko Le Meridien etc, there are other affordable but very comfortable hotels spread all over Lagos. We have so many of these hotels along the beach sides to give any visitor a suiting sea side relaxation. These hotels accommodation costs ranges from $50 to $100 per day depending on the kind of lodging you may require i.e. single, double or suits.
Most of the hotels operate an inside restaurant and room services with continental and intercontinental dishes. But incase one wants to exploit the local cuisines, you could take a drive into any part of the town and jump into any restaurant that offers the kind of food you want to experiment. In Lagos, there are assorted local cuisines from all parts of Nigeria and the neighbouring African countries. If you are a visitor from the West, you have to watch out for the chili pepper, it is a permanent ingredient in almost all the indigenous cuisines and can be very harsh to the mouth or may cause some health hazards to anyone who is not acclimatized to it.
Tourist attractions in Lagos:
Apart from the beautiful Beaches and the exquisite hotels, Lagos is being gradually transformed by the current administration into a tourism state. The beatification of the streets and parks has made Lagos a beautiful sight. The national museum, Oba’s palace (king’s palace), and their traditional dance and masquerade known as ‘Eyo’ are important attractions in Lagos. A little drive out of the Lagos metropolises through the Badagry beaches, you will arrive at Badagry, the dispatch Port for slave trading. At Badagry, you will visit the Vlekte Slave market where slaves were sold, Canons of War left by the British, Palace of The Akran of Badagry, the District Officers’ office and residence, the Early Missionaries’ Cemetery, the First Storey building in Nigeria built by the Anglican Missionaries, Museum, the Relics of Slave Chains and the Slave Port established before the sixteenth century. There is so much to make your journey a pleasant one in Lagos.
Where to shop:
There are so many places you could go for shopping in Lagos. In fact, every part of Lagos has commercial activities and sometimes you may think that where you are shopping is the best but until you explore other parts before you can understand that every part of Lagos has commercial activities going on in large scales. However, there are some popular places to shop for quality and cheap goods. Just make sure you don’t shop in one place; sample so many shopping plazas and you will discover what you want at affordable prices.
Sometimes it’s advisable not to shop in the high brow areas because the same products you will buy in the popular areas will cost thrice the price in the high brow areas. You may also look out for Nigerian and African dresses and arts, portraits and all that you may need to remind you of you visit to Lagos.
Many visitors to Lagos have always commended the cost of lodging, feeding and the beautiful beaches in Lagos. It is real and true.
Godwill Agomoh Paul is a Clergy and Authour based in Lagos.