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Did You Know That Ikeja Was Not Always The Capital Of Lagos State?


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Nowadays, anyone you ask may tell that the capital of Lagos state is Ikeja. That is true nowadays but it was not always the case. Lagos was not always a state and within the context of the whole country, the name only applied to the city of Lagos from 1861 to 1967. It was first a conquered territory (protectorate), then became a crown colony and then capital city, in that order. Let me explain.

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Lagos was conquered in 1851 and then subsequently became a crown colony after the British waded into a succession crisis/war for the throne of the fishing town between Obas Kosoko and Akintoye. The town grew rapidly under British rule and as the colonizers conquered more territory in what would become Nigeria. When Nigeria was forged from the southern and northern protectorates in 1914, Lagos was the natural choice for capital. It would stay this way until 1960 when the country became independent.

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When Yakubu Gowon created twelve states in 1967 right in the middle of the crisis that would lead to the Nigerian Civil War, the city of Lagos and its metropolitan area plus even farther outlying territories that had previously been within the jurisdiction of the Western Region at the time. Places like Epe, Badagry and Ikorodu fell within that definition. At the time of creation, the urban agglomeration we now call the island or Lagos Island was the area known as Lagos town and was governed by the City Council of Lagos which now fell under the Lagos State government.

The city hence was the natural and de-facto capital of the country, state and municipality. City Hall which has now been repurposed was the seat of power. This would be the case until 1976 when the city council was dissolved and the capital was moved to the more central Ikeja which was originally planned as an industrial area for the old Western Region.

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David Okwara

Some call me David. Others, Emerie. Others, (unfortunate fellows) Biggie. I like to think that I have sense and that is why I write too. Otherwise, I draw and paint and sing (in the bathroom) and love to make people laugh. I love to understand how things work and that’s why I love DIY videos and YouTube of course. Follow me on Twitter @EmerieOkwara



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