Ikeja lives up to its reputation as the capital of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial and cultural powerhouse. A drive through the streets reveals a neighbourhood with an assortment of malls, spas, hotels, bars, lounges, and popular stores. If you enjoy shopping, going for a swim or spending time outdoors with your family or friends, you have a rich array of places to pick from. The landmarks that stand out in Ikeja make this neighbourhood one of the most important places in Lagos. These are:
- The Lagos State Secretariat – Also known as Alausa Secretariat offices of the Governor and Deputy-Governor of Lagos state
- The Murtala Muhammed International Airport – The major airport serving the entire state
- The Lagos State House of Assembly – The legislative arm of Lagos State Government
- The Ikeja Shopping Mall (ICM) – The biggest shopping mall on the Lagos mainland.
Map of Ikeja
The original settlers of Ikeja are the Yorubas, hailing from western Nigeria. Ikeja was heavily raided for slaves during the mid-19th century. Surprisingly, as Ikeja stepped into the 20th century, it was transformed into an agricultural hinterland for Lagos State. Ikeja became the residential and commercial powerhouse that it is today when the Lagos-Ibadan railway was opened in 1901. The growth of Lagos State as a port further fast-tracked the rising reputation of Ikeja into a top-notch suburb of Lagos. In the mid-1960s, an industrial estate was established, and in 1976 Ikeja became the capital of the Lagos state.
Ikeja is a metropolitan neighbourhood and a commercial haven for businesses, rich with plush mansions, estates, shopping malls, cinemas and outdoor spaces that generally make living here a wonderful experience. In addition to being a hotspot for tourists, it also features a spirited nightlife.
The level of safety that residents enjoy stems partly from the fact that Ikeja is home to the Police College Ikeja, Lagos State Secretariat and hosts a high number of prominent residents. Ikeja offers urban lifestyle living for individuals and families. The neighbourhood is also known for promoting a healthy lifestyle – if you are up early enough, you will spot residents during their early morning runs.
Who Lives in Ikeja?
Ikeja offers urban lifestyle living for individuals and families. This animated neighbourhood is home to two categories of residents; the social butterflies and those who enjoy the serenity that comes with living in quiet estates.
As a home of commerce and influential citizens, Ikeja enjoys a rich history of amenities. From good roads that encourage early morning runs to parks and a wide array of healthcare providers, Ikeja has everything you need.
If you need to enrol your child in a good school in Ikeja, you’ll have a nice time checking out the fine schools in and around the neighbourhood. The district has a unique offering of public schools like Opebi Grammar School, Ikeja Senior High School, Opebi Primary School and Immaculate Heart Comprehensive High School, missionary schools like Maryland Comprehensive High School as well top notch private schools like Chrisland School, Grange School, Nigerian Turkish International College, Avi-Ceena International College, D-Ivy College and Greensprings Schools.
For young couples with babies, Ikeja has a multitude of trusted creches to choose from.
Libraries, Coworking Spaces & Study Rooms:
Learning and creativity are an integral part of the Ikeja community and there are facilities to promote this. Libraries, study centres and coworking spaces in Ikeja include the Gani Fawehinmi Library and Gallery, Ignite Africa Library, Ikeja Secretariat Library, Enterprise Creative HotHouse, Smart Executives, Redahlia, TPX Hub, The Colony, Wennovation Hub, Workbay, African Hub, Phiret Energy Training Services, Fastlaunch, Afrinolly Space Creative Hub and The Colony,
There are 12 public libraries in Lagos and Ikeja is home to one of them.
One of the great things about Ikeja is the number of options it offers its residents and visitors in terms of healthcare. Whether you just want a quick date with the dentist, a thorough medical checkup with the general physician or you just want to speak with a specialist, you are assured of getting a wide array of hospitals, clinics and pharmacies to choose from. The neighbourhood is revered for being home to the famous Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, as well as other big players like Motayo Hospital, Duro Soleye Hospital, Eko Hospital, Lagoon Hospital, Reddington Hospital, Nigerian Airforce Hospital, Ikeja Medical Centre, St. Leo’s Medical Centre, Deseret International Hospital Ikeja and specialist hospitals like St. Ives Specialist Hospital.
Residents and the authorities in this neighbourhood have a reputation for extending a hand of kindness to the less fortunate members of the society. The presence of orphanages and the support they receive from their neighbourhood bears testament to this. A good example of this is the Maryland Orphanage Home. The roundabout that connects Toyin Street in Ikeja with Allen Avenue and Opebi Road is a very interesting point. Over the years, several companies have taken up the responsibility of decorating it with flowers, fountains and sculptures like the one for late business man and politician, M.K.O Abiola.
Food and Drinks
Ikeja is the home of local dishes, fast food and continental dishes. So, whether you are craving a quick international snack of pizza, shawarma or burger, you can be rest assured that there is no shortage of this in Ikeja.
However, if you prefer local delicacies like a proper local plate of pounded yam and garnished vegetable soup, Amala with a yummy serving of egusi soup and roasted snail or a plate of Eba and the famous ‘Edikainkong soup’ or Banga soup, you’ll have a nice time sampling several restaurants. These and more are available at restaurants like Calabar Kitchen, Mama Cass and Jevnik.
If you are vegetarian or if you would rather indulge in international cuisines like the chicken caesar pasta salad or baked mushrooms and spinach, the eateries in Ikeja have you covered.
A place like the University of Suya located at the Allen Avenue roundabout is reputed for making peppered beef barbecue under high hygienic standards. It is a perfect take-out spot for you if you are keen on exploring the nightlife.
Pekas Night Club, bar and restaurant, which sits between Opebi, Allen and Toyin Street is one of the most visited places in Ikeja. The swarming presence of ladies of the red-light district also makes it quite an attraction. Locals sometimes call it Pekas Hotel.
Ikeja is also famous for its broad options of hotels, bars and restaurants Sheraton Hotel, New Afrika Shrine, Sweet Sensation, The Place, Chicken Republic, Ibis Hotel, Big Treat, Protea Hotel, Club Vegas, KFC, Mr. Biggs, Cold Stone, Niteshift Coliseum, Rhapsody’s and many others.
How to Get Around in Ikeja
Navigating your way through this neighbourhood requires knowing your way around the shortcuts, but you will soon become one of the locals. The best time to move around Ikeja are the early hours of the morning, in the early afternoon and then late at night. These are the times of the day when the roads are free from of heavy traffic. Weekends are also great times to move around Ikeja. The network of adjoining streets offers an array of shortcuts that eventually link to major roads.
If you own a car, then driving through the interlinking streets of this district is an experience you’re bound to enjoy. However, driving during peaks hours like 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm during working days of the week is something you should be wary of. This period of the day witnesses heavy vehicular movement. Allen Avenue, Oregun and Toyin Street, Opebi and G.R.A are all very central and help you link in and out of the neighbourhood with ease. Occasionally, you would be pulled over by the police for a quick stop and search to ensure you have your papers and car documents intact.
If you’re looking to travel out of Lagos or coming into the state by air; from any part of the world, Ikeja is bound to be your first contact point. This is where the state’s Lagos Domestic Airport (Murtala Muhammed Airport Terminal 2) and Murtala Muhammed International Airport can be found
Toyin Street in Ikeja | Photo credit: Private Property
By Commercial Bus: The yellow commercial buses in Ikeja popularly known as ‘Danfo’ are mainly used by those whose destination is outside Ikeja. From Ikeja, you can easily find yellow buses at major parks like Ikeja Under Bridge, Allen Roundabout and Ikeja Along to help you connect Ojuelegba, Yaba, Ojodu-Berger, Agege, Iyana Ipaja, Egbeda, Abule-Egba, Sango. They are largely very affordable. They can also be boarded at several bus-stops within the district.
However, for the very upscale parts of Ikeja such as Toyin Street and G.R.A, commercial buses are restricted from operating. Around this area, you’ll have to settle for an alternative means of transportation such as taxis or tricycles.
By Motorcycles: Commercial motorcycles also known as Okada, remain a prominent form of transportation within interconnecting streets in Ikeja especially for those who don’t drive their own cars.
Important to note: Motorcycles are officially banned from the highways across the state by the state government but they are not illegal. Within Ikeja, they serve the purpose of quick transportation well but operate with restrictions. For instance, if you are heading towards Awolowo Way or Alausa Secretariat in Ikeja, you would have to hail a taxi or use a commercial bus.
By Uber/Cabs/Taxis: In Ikeja, taxis serve the purpose of transiting into and out of the neighbourhood really well. They are safe, easy to hail and are affordable. You don’t necessarily have to tip the drivers after the ride but if you do, they would surely light up with gratitude. They are known to be friendly and always have very interesting stories to tell if you are in the mood for some chit-chat.
By Tricycles: Tricycles are such a popular means of transportation within Ikeja that they outnumber commercial buses operating within the district. They charge the same fare as commercial buses and are safe.
By BRT: The BRT buses were launched in Lagos on March 17, 2008. In Ikeja, the help residents commute faster than the yellow commercial buses. They charge a fixed fare based on your destination. For residents who work in Ikoyi, Lekki, Lagos Island, Victoria Island or other places on the island in Lagos, the BRT is a preferred choice. Unlike other commercial buses, commuters are expected pay for a ticket (printed on the spot) and then join the appropriate queue. If you live in Ikeja and you want to join a BRT, you need to get to the BRT’s Maryland bus stop. One great thing about the BRT? They are fully air-conditioned and really comfortable. However, you cannot use a BRT if you are transiting within Ikeja. Rather, they connect you to other neighbourhoods in Lagos.
Ikeja has an array of outdoor options for locals, visitors and tourists. The ambience at the poolside offers one of the biggest attractions in this neighbourhood. For instance, the Lagos Airport Hotel in Ikeja has the deepest swimming pool in Lagos. Wondering how deep it goes? 25 feet deep! Of course, it’s an Olympic size pool.
If you have a thing for soccer, basketball games or exercising, you’re bound to have tonnes of fun with the growing list of options open to you. Some great places to spend some outdoor time include the Lagos Country Club, Ivory Health Club, Fuzion Fitness Centre, Team 5 Gym, Collins Karate Network and Safari Fitness.
Ride Easy Motorcycling Club is also available for you if you are into power bikes and adrenaline surges. It’s an exclusive club with its office in Ikeja. To become a member, simply read the constitution and fill out a form.
Shopping in Ikeja
The sheer number of stores and shopping malls in Ikeja are nothing short of delightful. This neighbourhood promises a memorable experience for anyone with a flair for shopping. Some of the popular malls and stores in Ikeja include the famous Ikeja City Mall (ICM), Computer Village, Alausa Shopping Mall, Alade Shopping Mall, Shoprite and the Maryland Mall.
Did You Know?
Ikeja was the home of late Afro Beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, M.K.O Abiola.
A very interesting thing about Ikeja is that it was the first place kola nut was grown in Nigeria
Ikeja unfolds into quiet neighbourhoods, an exhilarating nightlife, exotic bars, posh clubs and lots of outdoor options to choose from.