By Ifedayo Adeleye & Isime Esene
In the whirlwind of events that seems to accost us from every sphere of our lives, it’s easy to completely tune out and just take things as they come. Trends come and go, we hear of the new popping restaurant or amusement gaining momentum online and offline. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things, place and trends that we are assaulted with.
But not everything is just white noise, and at Culture Intelligence, we’ve curated a list of 100 things that you should pay extra attention to as they can truly enrich your experience as a visitor or a resident of the country. This is our list of 100 most interesting things in Nigeria.
CANADA IS THE NEW ‘MOVE ON’ DESTINATION
Since President Muhammadu Buhari took power in 2015, early skeptics began to leave the country in droves, convinced the new president still held archaic views he had implemented in the ‘80s and would try to do that again. Not quite convinced, the majority of Nigerians chose to give the new president a chance and see what he would manage to accomplish.
One interminably long recession later, too many Nigerians have their answer. They are all liquidating resources, sitting for IELTS, and applying to their dream schools. Canada and much of Europe beckons for the hungry Nigerian professionals fearing for their lives in an increasingly theocratic government and willing to switch allegiances. With total disregard for freezing weather, many young Nigerians are leaving for better education, healthcare, lifestyle, and securing a better future for their children.
DONALD TRUMP’S LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH NIGERIA
The Nigerian Twitterverse has never been shy about its opinions regarding the current US President who has consistently been a trending topic in the country. According to data revealed by the Pew Research Centre, about 58 percent of Nigerians have confidence in Donald Trump’s capacity as a global leader, even while he maintains an average of 35 percent job approval rating in his own country.
While international confidence in Trump’s handling of world affairs has waned over the course of his first term, fueled by his discriminatory policies towards Islamic nations and countries he considers as sympathetic to Muslim concerns, most Nigerians believe Trump “will do the right thing regarding world affairs”.
ANTHONY JOSHUA PROSTRATES BEFORE THE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT
During President Buhari’s meeting with Nigerians in London, which was held during the inaugural UK-Africa Investment Summit in January, the President congratulated Nigerian born boxer, Anthony Joshua for regaining his world championship belt, as well as putting Nigeria “on the world map again like Hogan Bassey.”
In a show of respect – as is customary in his tribe, he prostrated before the president. The gesture drew a lot of praise from people loyal to the president while the president’s critics hit Joshua hard for giving that much respect to an “underperformer”.
THE RETURN OF BIODUN FATOYINBO
Biodun Fatoyinbo seemed to have had it coming. He was first accused of abusing his position of authority to proposition church workers in Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and promised to give a ‘robust response’ when accused by his consensual sex partner.
That robust response was yet to be received when another high profile Nigerian, celebrity photographer, Busola Dakolo sat with Chude Jideonwo to narrate her personal experience with the pastor and officially accuse him of rape. Causing a national maelstrom and nationwide protests that forced the Pentecostal church in Nigeria to intervene and Biodun Fatoyinbo, the accused pastor, to take a leave of absence from leading his church, many felt some kind of justice had been served.
It would seem many of us were naive. Fatoyinbo would eventually return to his congregation after an aggressive repair campaign that included compromised clothing, bought religious leader, and a fanatic congregation. Intimidation of his victims has followed since his reinstatement, and faith in the Nigerian justice system has waned.
In October 2019, #SexForGrades, an undercover documentary was released exposing an under-reported culture of sexual deviance, coercion, and abuse of authority by some Nigerian lecturers who bullied students and forced them into sexual relationships in exchange for a passing grade. The documentary made by journalist, Kiki Mordi forced the Nigerian legislature to reintroduce a Bill to punish university lecturers who are caught harassing female students.
It turns out only a small fraction of lecturers were exposed. The documentary triggered a series of actions that led to the outing of an OAU lecturer named Bisi Olaleye as a serial abuser who coerced female students into sexual relationships and was described as a sexual predator on social media. Under the hashtag #OAUTakeBisiOut, people took to Twitter to call for his removal from his position.
APC LEADER, BOLA TINUBU’S 2023 AMBITION
While the party leader is yet to confirm his intention to run, conversations about the possibility of the former governor contesting for the Nigerian presidency in 2023 have begun in earnest. Two billboards with the inscription ‘BAT 2023’ were mounted a few meters from the Lagos State Government Secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja last July, sparking outrage from citizens who felt four months post general elections was way too early for campaigns to begin. A group called the ‘Asiwaju Reloaded Ambassadors’ continued to share pictures of caps, T-shirts, and even leaflets with Bola Tinubu 2023 embossed on them.
After a brief meeting with President Buhari on 7 January 2020, Bola Tinubu said that it is too early to speak on the zoning of the presidency ahead of the next general elections in 2023, maintaining that “it will be mere restlessness to talk about it now.” His non-committal answer lends credence to the belief that he intends to contest in 2023.
THE FUTURE OF CITIZEN ACTIVISM
Two days before Christmas, a member of the House of Representatives and club owner, Shina Peller, was arrested by the police and detained at the Maroko police station. Peller’s team put out a statement declaring that the Nigerian Police had falsified accounts surrounding his arrest and detainment and called on other politicians to pressure the Police to release the legislator.
Many Nigerians believe that he was eventually released only when Segun ‘Segalink’ Awosanya intervened. As a civilian with no political affiliations, ‘Segalink’ has become the single most powerful activist in the country. His tenacity and understanding of the legal framework that guides policing have seen him intervene successfully in police cases across the country, winning countless victories for helpless citizens. He is the avatar of citizen activism and has inspired many young people to take on the government and other oppressors legally challenging the legitimacy of their actions and forcing change. Journalists like Kiki Mordi and Fisayo Soyombo have had their activism driven projects receive similar responses.
It will be interesting to see how it goes this year.
#“STOP CALLING US NEPA,” SAYS DISCOS SPOKESMAN
Sunday Oduntan, executive director of research and advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) said in a statement that Nigerians should stop calling the organization ‘NEPA’ if they want electricity. Of course, this quickly became a trending topic on social media, although it is yet to be confirmed whether Nigerians finally succumbed to his ‘threats’.
AN ARSONIST ON THE LOOSE?
Between October and November 2019, it went from a rare and often disastrous occurrence to a routine phenomenon, happening at least once a month in a different state. There was a fire at the famous Onitsha Market, and then two different situations at the famous Balogun Market in Lagos. On October 17, 2019, fire disaster wrecked the Ochanja market in Onitsha, Anambra, following an inferno that engulfed the bustling commercial city east of the River Niger.
Many other fire outbreaks started from defective pipelines in several towns. As many seek to make sense of the carnage, some have suggested that the country may be dealing with an arsonist unafraid of the consequences of getting caught.
SEPARATING CHURCH FROM STATE IN KWARA
Religion is woven into the very fabric of Nigerian life. Prayers are said in schools and government offices, events are flagged on each end by a word of exhortation by a religious leader, God is invoked in business transactions and contract signings.
But a Kwara State Government finally free of the influence of the Saraki family seems to want to divest itself of all external influences, including spiritual ones. On January 14, 2020, the government took a bold step to ban preaching in public schools across the state. An act of bravery that will only matter if the government actually enforces it – but will they or will the costs be too great?
NDA CADETS, PLUMMING, AND A CULTURE OF IMPUNITY
Earlier this year, a video of a bunch of military cadets were filmed deliberately holding up traffic and harassing civilians. This act, which is a tradition known as Plumming 101, is usually a military hazing ritual performed by cadets during Christmas or New Year holiday. It is intended to display their military authority, and how much the young officers can display a show of force.
The Nigerian military has been accused of misusing its authority and harassing citizens, a perception it has tried to manage by swiftly punishing acts of impunity and distancing itself from abuse of power. Now that Plumming has been exposed to an unimpressed electorate, will the tradition be phased out of military life?
MONARCHS GONE WILD
“Yoruba kings and chiefs who indulge in clubbing, smoking, drinking, and other untoward behaviours are not worthy of honour and any respect,” says the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi. He said this during the installation of Fuji maestro, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal, as the ‘Mayegun of Yorubaland’.
The new Mayegun, who now holds a chieftaincy title with the responsibility to advocate for the unity of the Yoruba tribe, is also known as the ‘king of Fuji’, a style of dance music combining juju, apala, and Yoruba blues. On December 20, 2019, the Fuji legend was spotted at Quilox, a popular club in Lagos, Nigeria, where he was sprayed $100 notes by Grammy Awards nominee, Burna Boy.
NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT TRIES TO GAG PUBLIC DISSENT WITH A SOCIAL MEDIA BILL
The Social Media Bill, officially titled “Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill 2019″, is sponsored by Muhammad Sani Musa (Niger State East Senatorial District), and firmly backed by several senators including Elisha Abbo, (Adamawa North Senatorial District), the politician who went viral online for assaulting a woman in a sex toy shop.
According to the Senate, the bill was introduced to criminalize sharing false information on social media, which it explained was necessary to counter malicious intent. By November 2019, more than 85,000 people signed an online petition against it, with #SayNoToSocialMediaBill leading Twitter trends for many days. For critics, the bill intends to limit freedom of speech and government criticism. It was also exposed to be a verbatim copy of the Singaporean legislature, further weakening its legitimacy, it remains contested in the Senate and reviled by the public.
BOKO HARAM RELEASES FIVE AID WORKERS
In what many saw as uncharacteristic of the Boko Haram terrorist group, it was reported that five aid workers kidnapped by the sect on December 22, 2019, were released. The release was facilitated by the State Security Service (SSS), but many people seem to believe that a ransom was paid.
The release also suggests a softening of Boko Haram’s often draconian responses to dissent as it expands its operations into Borno. Boko Haram’s actions will be watched closely this year as the Nigerian government seeks to make good on its promise to fully eradicate the terrorist group.
Viewers Discretion is advised.
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING: #JUSTICEFORCHIMA
On January 17, 2020, Nigerians took to social media – under the hashtag #JusticeForChima – to demand justice for the latest victim of police brutality. According to several reports, Chima was arrested alongside four of his apprentices – Victor Ogbonna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere – for driving against traffic in Port Harcourt, the Rivers capital on December 19, 2019. He was said to have been robbed by the police of N150,000 and unlawfully detained, where he died.
#JusticeForChima adds to the litany of hashtags that seek to bring awareness to continued acts of brutality that the Nigerian Police Force metes against innocent citizens. But his case, which happened outside of Lagos where most of the cases have gained traction, marks a shift in the national response to police violence and greater scrutiny for the force in 2020.
FOUR SEMINARIANS KIDNAPPED IN KADUNA
On January 8, 2020, some unknown gunmen stormed The Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna and kidnapped four seminarians. Kaduna State has been the epicenter of armed banditry and kidnappings. The state government in partnership with the federal government has increased security within the state with little improvement.
But the kidnap of four seminarians can no longer be dismissed as armed banditry or kidnapping forces the state to consider the religious undercurrents that might be motivating the acts of violence towards innocent citizens.
NIGERIA IN THE SPACE RACE
Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, during a seminar at the 2020 National Convention of the Izzi Old Students Association in Ebonyi State University (EBSU), made a statement which many Nigerians deemed outrageous – Nigeria has plans to send a man to space.
The announcement stirred controversy on social media, with people asking the government to focus on basic things like electricity and education before making such unnecessary investment. It is surprising the volatile reaction considering Nigeria has had a space program for nearly 3 decades and has even successfully sent a satellite into orbit (from other countries but still…). Perhaps this is the time Nigeria gets it right, the International Space Station could do with some African food.
WILL NYSC SKIRTS BECOME THE NEXT HUMAN RIGHTS FRONTIER
In January 2020, a religious advocacy group decided to protest the dress code for the Nigerian Youth Service Corps. With signs reading: “There is a difference between the world and the daughters of God” and “Our sisters cannot dress like men”, the leader of the group, Udochi Emmanuel stated that being harassed for wearing skirts in NYSC orientation camps breached their fundamental human rights under Section 38(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, citing trousers as one of the reasons for immorality among corps members.
This isn’t the first time a Nigerian institution’s laws on dressing will be challenged. In 2018, Firdaus Amasa, a Nigerian lawyer contested the Nigerian Bar Association rules on dressing for the Call to Bar ceremony, sparking a national conversation, and eventually an overturning of the bar. Perhaps this is what this group intends to replicate with its protest.
N37 BILLION FOR NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMPLEX OVERHAUL
The federal government recently approved N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex, a budget that many Nigerians have described as ridiculous. The approval came days after the Presidency’s request for a $30 billion loan from the IMF was approved after previously being rejected by the Bukola Saraki-led 7th Senate.
The Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP) had sued the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the FCDA asking the court to restrain the federal government from accessing the money until an impact assessment of the spending on critical sectors and access to public goods and services is carried out.
CHIMAMANDA ADICHIE’S LATEST AWARD
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie started 2020 on a high note, as she became the first recipient of the Belle van Zuylen Ring, an honorary prize awarded by the International Literature Festival Utrecht (ILFU), Netherlands.
Chimamanda is easily the most influential Nigerian in the arts, with international recognition across the globe and a literary and cultural following that is unrivaled. She recently flexed some of that cultural muscle by bringing Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female creative director of Dior to Nigeria for cultural exchange. Her new award is only an affirmation of that power.
WHEELBARROW TO COMBAT POVERTY IN ENUGU
Poverty alleviation schemes are the very bane of the Nigerian electorate. Used as a temporary salve to distract from the fact that elected officials cannot deliver on campaign promises or improve existing infrastructure, select demographics are singled out for temporary empowerment and used as promotional material for the advancement of the politician in question’s career.
This is what the Chairman of the Enugu Transition Committee, Hon. Chinwe Ugwu decided to do when she gave out wheelbarrows on hire purchase to people of Nsukka LGA in Enugu as a poverty alleviation mechanism. The sheer audacity of an elected official to treat their electorate this way is why this story made the news across the country.
SPORTS MINISTRY TO LET PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS ADOPT ATHLETES
Nigerian sports is in the dumps. Decades of defecting athletes in all disciplines have drained the country of important generational mentoring that breeds excellence and winners. It has also weakened the influence of the Nigerian public university system in finding and grooming future athletes.
Eager to find a fitting solution to the problem of college sports and how best to bridge the deficit of talent and mentorship, the Sports Ministry for the very first time is experimenting with letting private universities adopt athletes. The initiative would allow wealthy private institutions to adopt and train an athlete, to combat the high rate at which athletic talents in the country fade due to lack of proper funding.
PERUZZI ACCUSED OF BREAKING HIS CONTRACT AND JUMPING SHIP
DMW had more than one controversy to weather in early 2020 as its label signee, Peruzzi was accused of breach of contract and negligence by Patrick Anyaene, CEO of Golden Boy Records in a Twitter thread.
Anyaene who alleges he is also pursuing his case legally in arbitration court accused label owner Davido of convincing his artiste (Peruzzi) to jump ship and refusing to remit royalties from the music recorded before Peruzzi was officially announced as a DMW signing. He claims some of Davido’s songs on which Peruzzi owns writing credits were covered in the management deal he had with the singer.
Following the post, Davido stated that Peruzzi was not an official member of his record label, DMW Music but merely a mentee. The conversation turned ugly with Anyaene’s post about Peruzzi and Chioma’s alleged affair, which is still unproven.
KANO STATE, HISBAH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL, AND SOUTH-WEST GOVERNORS
On January 22, 2020, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) called on the Nigerian government to immediately disband the Hisbah police operating in the North. The Hisbah Corps is a religious police force in Kano responsible for the enforcement of Sharia.
The call was a direct response to the federal government’s move to declare Amotekun, the new security outfit in the South-West, as illegal. If the argument for the Hisbah Corps can be said to be covered in the Kano State Hisbah Corps Law of 2003 passed by the Kano State House of Assembly, it should be easy for the same laws on the Amotekun to pass in the South-West, especially Oyo, Ondo, Osun, and Ekiti States.
This would directly set many states, even Kano, on a collision course with the federal government in court, as the latter will definitely argue that the passage of such laws is outside the legislative competence of State Houses of Assembly.
SHI’ITES DEMAND EL-ZAKZAKY’S RELEASE
The Islamic Movement in Nigerian (IMN), a religious group that represents the interests of Shi’ites living in the country has become synonymous with public disruption and civil unrest. The IMN is protesting the protracted arrest and detainment of its religious leader Sheikh El-Zakzaky, the murder of his family members, and the organization’s poor attempt at conciliation.
Recently, the IMN took to the streets of Abuja to protest against the bombing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, despite – as widely believed – not having any affiliation with him. They were seen burning American flags and agitating anti-American propaganda, and at the same time calling for the release of their leader, El Zakzaky.
BEATING LAGOS TRAFFIC
Lagos traffic has become the stuff nightmares are made of, and nothing bites harder than spending endless hours in the uncontrolled gridlock. Lagos vehicular traffic congestion knows no time and has no regard for anybody. While car owners lament over persistent gridlock, commuters groan about the ‘holdup’ which usually lasts for hours.
Although the traffic is now synonymous with the city as it is in most megacities, the Lagos State Government’s primary solution to this chronic problem, a light rail line that ideally should connect the city to its adjacent state and encourage citizens to move out of the conurbation is years from completion. Until then, the citizens toil and complain.
BIAFRA SURRENDER DAY 50 YEARS LATER
While January 15 is officially observed as the Armed Forces Remembrance Day, many Nigerians – primarily of Igbo descent are forced to celebrate not only the Nigerians who have given their lives for the country but the lives the country has also taken from them. For them, the day is the annual anniversary of the surrender of Biafran forces in the Nigerian Civil War, a war where many Easterners were killed and forced to endure violence and starvation, siege tactics that killed nearly 2 million Biafrans.
Many Igbos took to social media to express their frustration at the fact that the federal government has over the last few decades tried to erase the suffering of Nigerians of Igbo descent and refuses to acknowledge the lives lost during the war. It is an essential part of Nigerian history and continues to cause friction between the region and the rest of the country.
FATHER MBAKA: PROPHET OR CHARLATAN?
He actually called it. New Year prophecies have become a feature of the Nigerian Christian experience. Religious leaders across denominations release vague and occasionally detailed instructions on how the year will play out and few leaders gain as much engagement to these annual prophecies as Father Mbaka, a Catholic priest based in Enugu.
This year, Mbaka prophesied that Senator Hope Uzodinma, the All Progressive Congress (APC) party governorship candidate, would win the court battle for the Imo State seat. In a country used to controversial court decisions. It was a prophecy few took seriously, as Senator Hope Uzodinma was the fourth-ranked candidate during the governorship election in the state.
Thirteen days after the prophecy, the Supreme Court voided the election of Emeka Ihedioha as the governor of Imo State and directed that the APC candidate be sworn in as the new governor. Maximus Ugwuoke, his spokesman, in a statement said Mbaka made 40 prophecies, but only that of Uzodinma generated controversy.
Ugwoke explained that there were 39 more, and Nigerians should expect the manifestation of these prophecies before the year runs out. Would they be this controversial too?
KOGI SALARIES AND YAHAYA BELLO’S 2019 ELECTION VICTORY
In September 2019, over 7,000 teachers in public primary and junior secondary schools in Kogi State released a communique appealing to Governor Yahaya Bello to address their unpaid salaries between 8 to 39 months. As the governor prepared to run for a second term, the state secured a N30.8 billion bailout from the federal government which helped in paying salary arrears for Kogi workers.
Apart from salaries, the state government had not paid leave bonus since it was voted into office, with outstanding payments in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Several pensioners were also owed for up to two years before the election in November 2019. Fifteen days to the governorship election, the organized labour in Kogi gave Governor Bello an electoral boost, endorsing the way he spent the Paris Club refund and the bailout fund of N30.8 billion, and stating that they were satisfied with the governor.
IS MC OLUOMO THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MAN IN LAGOS?
The Lagos State Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Musiliu ‘MC Oluomo’ Akinsanya is popular among street urchins and many politicians across the South West. Leveraging his position as a chairman of NURTW, an organization considered influential in political circles because of its connections to thuggery in the state, Oluomo helped shepherd the current governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu into office through open endorsement.
By December 2019, he emerged as one of the most searched Nigerians on Google and was consistently a trending topic on Twitter, as his influence spread in the state. Highly controversial, Oluomo’s fame continues to spread as he challenges preconceived notions of what a person with political power looks like in the 21st century.
INFLATION RISES FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN A ROW UNDER BUHARI’S WATCH
According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria’s inflation rate increased for the fourth straight month to 11.98% in December 2019, from 11.85% in the previous month. The November rate was the highest rate since May 2018.
The consumer prices rose 12% from a year earlier, compared with 11.9% in November, while costs rose by 0.85% in December. Also, food prices increased to 14.7% in December from 14.5% in the previous month. The continued surge in food prices may not be unrelated to the shutdown of the nation’s land borders in August 2019 to curb the smuggling of goods into Nigeria.
On Thursday, January 9, 2019, Operation Amotekun, a paramilitary outfit, was launched by a coalition of south-west governors. According to its advocates, It was formed as a response to the rising challenge of insecurity in the region, the growing threat of ‘killer herdsmen’, and the inadequacy of the Nigerian Police to combat the upsurge of crime in the region. Others have speculated that Amotekun is simply a smart way to procure arms against any of the numerous northern menaces that threaten the sanctity of the nation.
Operation Amotekun has caused significant divisions in the country with the Attorney General of the federation suggesting the outfit is illegal and backtracking when Senator Bola Tinubu arguably the most influential man in the South West endorsed the initiative. The South-West recently announced all its governors are backing the initiative, setting up the scene for a face-off between the President Buhari-led Federal Government and the leaders of the APC party in the region.
Will Amotekun be eventually pronounced as treasonous? We will have to wait and see.
HANAN BUHARI’S USE OF PRESIDENTIAL PLANE
Hanan Buhari, who recently graduated with a first-class degree in photography from Ravensbourne University in London, was said to have been invited by the Emir of Bauchi, Rilwanu Adamu, to an off-season Durbar event as a special guest of honour. Durbar events are traditionally held to commemorate religious festivals like the end of Ramadan and the Emir of Bauch’s Durbar was considered by many commentators as staged for Hanan Buhari’s benefit.
Buhari’s daughter invited as the official photographer for the event, chose to visit the state with a jet from the presidential fleet, an action that incensed observers because the president had made campaign promises to reduce the fleet and prevent unofficial use of planes in the fleet. This incident officially introduces Hanan Buhari as a principal player in the politics around the presidency. She joins her brother Yusuf Buhari and sister Zahra Buhari, who have both been subjects of intense criticism about abuse of power.
ZAMFARA IS BUILDING AN AIRPORT AND A GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has emphasized his decision to construct a new government house and an airport, and nothing, not even the rare advice of his legislative colleagues would sway his plans. The governor intends on building an airport because the state doesn’t have one, and new presidential lodge because personal projects like one’s living quarters are of the utmost importance.
The airport is one of several projects to be executed under the Public-Private Partnership arrangement through a $1 billion approval by the Afrexim Bank. Funds for the Government House is yet to be announced, but that will have to be covered by the State budget. According to Oxford University’s Human Development Initiative, Zamfara State is the poorest in Nigeria with 92 percent poverty rate.
IWO KING AND HIS JAMAICAN EX-WIFE SHADE EACH OTHER
First, the Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Adewale Akanbi announced that he had divorced his wife, Chanel Chin on his Instagram page on Sunday, December 15, 2019.
On December 28, Chanel took to her own page to say: “Please, let maturity rule. If a king does not respect himself or his stool …who else will?” In another post, the king went ahead to lay curses on whoever ‘did evil in the marriage’ and also called out those judging him.
NIGERIAN POLICE PROFILES FOR CASH
Many young Nigerians have experienced what profiling as a result of personal appearance means as the Nigerian Police. Originally focused on young people with extravagant style, the Police’s requirements for a Stop and Search is the perceived access to financial wealth, a laptop or two in your proximity, or an attitude.
Arrests of this nature only end in one of two ways, a hefty bribe or a fast-tracked prison sentence. In April 2019, the Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State, Bala Elkana told the BBC that even though young cultists might choose to have dreadlocks and tattoos, it doesn’t mean the police should arrest anyone with such features.
If only he could enforce these ideas in the field.
The Nigerian Police is enemy number one as it relates to the Nigerian polity, forced arrests without a warrant, illegal detention, illegal charges, and street style assassinations; the Nigerian Police has been accused of it all.
As the force seeks to revamp its image through greater representation in community policing and a more flexible approach to work, it is having to deal with the long arm of resolution and the eternal presence of Gen-Z Nigerians. Young people continue to advocate especially for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) notorious in Nigeria for forced arrests, torturing, and extortion. The movement gains momentum in 2020 with Justice for Chima.
THE CABAL IS RUINING MY MARRIAGE
Three years ago, the Nigerian First Lady, Aisha Buhari claimed in an interview that her husband’s government had been hijacked by a cabal. It was the first of many cryptic messages that suggested the president was leaning too heavily on external influences to justify his political decisions.
Aisha Buhari’s empty accusations turned out laden with meaning when last year, it was rumoured the president was taking a new wife, news that the presidency’s spokesperson has declared as false. Mrs. Buhari was also subjected to sexist remarks by the families of her political rival, Abba Kyari and revealed that she intends to fight the cabal and regain her husband’s ear. Let’s hope so, for all our sakes.
NIGERIA SLIPS IN CORRUPTION INDEX
Transparency International recently released the 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), where Nigeria ranks 146 out of 180 countries globally. Nigeria also ranked the fourth most corrupt country out of the 19 countries in West Africa.
Nigeria’s ranking can easily be explained by the country’s actions. In the last year, it has closed its borders, accusing its own citizens of colluding with international smugglers to flood the local economy with illegal products. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman was indicted for malfeasance by the Federal Department of State Services (DSS) and former governors are being probed for corruption. The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, using a scale of 0 to 100, where zero means “highly corrupt” and 100 means very clean.
NIGERIANS DOMINATE GLOBAL COMBAT SPORTS
With limited investments in almost all of Nigerian sports except football, many athletes have had to defect to other countries to further their careers and compete favourably in their chosen sport. This brain drain has occurred consistently since the early ’70s and continues today. But not until this decade have we seen so many Nigerians rise to the top of sporting professions outside of football and basketball. Divine Oduduru recently became the world’s fastest college athlete, Nigerians are dominating American Football, Powerlifting, and especially dominating in combat sports.
Over the years, a few decorated fighters have emerged from Nigeria – athletes like Samuel Peters, Dick Tiger, and Bash Ali, but nothing like we are witnessing now. First, Anthony Joshua who holds four of the major five world titles in heavyweight boxing, including Efe Ajagba, a fast-rising heavyweight boxer who was formerly a soccer player.
Also, top MMA brand, Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) have a few Nigerian representatives on their roster, two of which currently stand as champions, the Stylebender, Israel Adesanya, who is the UFC Middleweight Champion and The Nigerian Nightmare, Usman Kamaru, the UFC Welterweight Champion.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE
SERIALIZED NATIVE ADVERTISING
With millions of brands competing for audience attention, advertisers are now looking for more exciting and creative ways to engage customers. Consumers are refusing to engage with obvious advertising and abandoning platforms that force advertising on customers. Advertisers are looking to the influencer communities for inspiration and pivoting towards serialized native advertising, the idea that a brand message can be embedded into traditional entertainment and rolled out over a long period of time.
Airtel Nigeria is a trailblazer in native advertising. In 2018, it pivoted to storytelling through serialized short films. Since it unveiled Gbenga Afolayan’s Life Without Data, and Meet the In-laws with Iyabo ‘Mama Rainbow’ Philips and Ngozi Iwosu in 2018, it has consistently drawn and held the attention of its target audience with the serialized films gaining a fandom. The cocktail of recognizable Nollywood talent and relatable tropes has proven so popular that comedians like Basketmouth are adopting these formats to promote their own brands.
UBER BOATS WANTS TO DISRUPT TRANSPORTATION IN LAGOS
As a response to the overwhelming level of traffic congestion in Lagos, ride-sharing company; Uber decided to take advantage of the coastlines in Lagos by coming up with the idea of expanding their transportation routes to the water.
Uber Boats was preceded by Go Boats, an initiative by ride-sharing app Gokada. Both apps and services are in beta-testing as they streamline their services and prepare for a proper launch on both sides.
Last November, Visa, the global payments platform acquired a minority stake in Nigerian payment’s startup Interswitch. The Nigerian fintech industry has been attracting a ton of venture capital funding, but Interswitch, one of the first fintech players in the industry had attained profitability long before this buy-in. Visa’s backing has made Interswitch Nigeria’s first official ‘Unicorn’, (Unicorn referring to a company valued at $1 billion) and as a result one of the most valuable African fintech businesses. Will Interswitch use the momentum of this new merger to expand into other African markets, or will it consolidate its influence in Nigeria? The world will be watching in the coming year.
BOLT EXPANDS TO ENUGU AND ABEOKUTA
Ride-sharing startup, Bolt announced recently that it would be taking its services to Enugu and Abeokuta. This brings its reach in Nigeria to six states, joining Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Port Harcourt. However, the race for ridesharing supremacy has already been lost to Chinese competitor OPay which offers ridesharing across vehicle classes and has successfully infiltrated Northern, Eastern, and Western Nigeria.
CHINA COMES FOR NIGERIA WITH OPAY
In November 2016, Norwegian Software company Opera Software was sold to a consortium of Chinese investors. This transition was important because Opera had spent the decade [2006 – 2016] making significant advances in the African software/tech markets, primarily with its mobile component, Opera Mini, a browser that compressed data for users, a primary concern for data conscious African users seeking to enjoy a comprehensive internet experience.
With the change of hands and Opera’s penetration of the African market, the company’s new Chinese owners began a round of aggressive expansion, launching a series of secondary services including a payment platform competitor and an ecosystem of food, transport, and lending services geared at African markets. Its most successful product in Nigeria has been OPay, a ride-hailing service that uses motorcycles to beat the near-constant traffic in the country’s capital cities. With a new round of funding worth $120 million and widespread adoption (OPay routed early adopter Gokada, flipping 70 percent of its riders), OPay will use the funds to scale in Nigeria and expand its payments product to Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa.
ACCESS BANK, AFRICA’S FIRST TRULY CONTINENTAL BANK?
In April 2019, Access Bank completed its merger with Diamond Bank and became the biggest bank on the continent by customer base. By January 2020, Access Bank announced that it had secured final approval from relevant authorities in Kenya to proceed with the acquisition of majority stakes in Kenyan-based Transnational Bank (TNB), which is intended to complement the bank’s franchise in Rwanda, Congo DRC, and Zambia.
With a presence in most of the continent’s English speaking countries and plans to expand into Francophone and Lusophone regions, Access Bank positioning itself to become the first African financial multinational to wield sufficient influence to be able to steer the continent’s economic policy.
PIGGYVEST DISRUPTED SAVINGS BUT THEY AREN’T DONE YET
A Nigerian tech success story by all accounts, PiggyVest is the brainchild of three Nigerian serial entrepreneurs (before the savings platform they created Push CV) who started a platform inspired by a tweet about the ‘kolo’, a savings tool that predates colonialism in Nigeria.
The savings platform has seen phenomenal growth in three short years purely on the premise of automating savings for customers. It has saved more than N1 billion for customers in 1 fiscal year, raised funding worth $1 million and currently serves 350,000 Nigerian customers with plans to expand into Ghana and other countries.
It is also diversifying its options, offering an investment portfolio and currency conversions that allow users to save in more stable currencies. PiggyVest’s success has inspired copycat apps and forced many banks to begin to restructure their savings portfolio to compete favourably in the market – that is a true measure of influence.
KANO’S CITY WALL IS THE NORTH’S OLDEST ARCHITECTURAL RELIC
The Kano City Wall is first introduced to Nigerian children in Social Studies classes. They are told of the town’s history that spans centuries, its place of influence as the primary trade post connecting the North to the silk route and its position as a fortress of Islamic education. The wall built to protect the city from invaders and later to announce the military and architectural might of the succession of Kano Emirs, stands to this day, diminished in its glory but no less revered by the residents of the city.
Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site and lauded as one of the oldest architectural marvels of West Africa, the wall attracts scholars who seek to understand its past and tourists who seek to experience this marvel for themselves.
IKEJA CITY MALL
Established by the Palms group as the first mall to favourably compete for the weekly pilgrimage of shoppers that used to cross the Third Mainland Bridge looking to stock up on discounted products. In that time, the retail outlet has grown to be the biggest in the group, serving thousands of young and old people with dining and retail experiences.
If you are looking for an excellent place to relax, perhaps grab a bite, watch a movie, shop product, or do all these at the same time, Ikeja City Mall is perfect. This mall is located in Ikeja, Lagos with a plethora of fun activities and diverse shopping options.
One of Nigeria’s most prominent tourist sites, Zuma Rock is the 725-meter-high rock located along Abuja-Kaduna highway. Of religious significance to the indigenous settlers of the Abuja area, Zuma Rock was worshipped and still is regarded as sacred ground.
Interestingly, the rock sometimes catches fire, especially during the rainy season. As a result, the locals have attributed a few myths to the rock. It is this myth that attracts thousands of tourists to this site every year. For those who have a craving for rock climbing, Zuma Rock is also a popular spot.
YANKARI GAME RESERVE
This is Nigeria’s foremost wildlife park with many attractions to keep its visitors engaged. Well preserved by the Bauchi state government the reserve boasts the largest Northern Nigerian population of elephants and hyenas as well as other wild animals. Equipped for modern hospitality the reserve currently has its own resort, different grades of rooms for lodging in, a spring waterfall, Wiki Warm Spring, a spa, a gym, and the Yankari bar. It is located in the heartland of the West African Savannah in Benue.
Bauchi governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed, last September, said he would plead with the federal government to turn the game reserve to a National Park. He also welcomed Nigerian filmmakers, Isioma Osaje and Editi Effiong as they shot their film Up North within the reserve.
NIKE DAVIES-OKUNDAYE WILL SEE YOU NOW
The Nike Art Gallery is part of a complex of art residencies and galleries run by Nike Davies-Okundaye. With a long pedigreed history in Nigerian art and her own patented Adire technique, Ms. Davies-Okundaye herself is a fount of knowledge and the main draw of the Nike Art Gallery in Lagos.
It doesn’t hurt that the gallery has five floors filled to the brim with art from some of the country’s most innovative visual, textile, and sculptural artists. The Nike Art Gallery is the best place to go if you want a crash course on the complexity, beauty, and history of Nigerian art.
OBUDU CATTLE RANCH
The crown jewel of Cross River tourism, the Obudu Cattle Ranch is set on the Obudu Plateau, a geographic rock formation situated just so that it has some of the coolest temperatures in the country, dwarfed only by Plateau State.
Created and maintained as a tourist attraction and revamped during the political tenure of Governor Donald Duke as part of his plan to promote tourism in the state, Obudu Cattle Ranch has become a symbol of luxury tourism, drawing local and international guests. With a mountain resort overlooking a stunning landscape that stretches farther than the eyes can see. It also has a massive cattle ranch, suites to lodge in, cable car to help tourists overlook the mountainous landscape, a water park for kids and adults, and a horse ride option – should you choose to ride one.
TARKWA BAY BEACH
One of the most popular beaches in Lagos, it spots a number of locals, which brings into perspective what the culture of the indigenous people in the area. With communities who have lived on the bay since before the Second World War, Tarkwa Bay’s natural coves and pristine beaches have proven prime real estate and one of the few public spaces open to the average Lagosian.
On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, many of them were rendered homeless after Nigerian Navy officers invaded the waterfront community and sacked residents. It was reported that the eviction is aimed at stopping the looting of nearby oil pipelines.
IKOGOSI WARM SPRINGS RESORT
This is a resort located in Ekiti State, with its signature warm and cold spring flowing towards each other and coming together at a convergence. A place of extreme spiritual significance to the Ikogosi people and other sub ethnicities in Ekiti, the Ikogosi Warm Springs have drawn devotees for centuries to its waters. That homage exists today with devotees visiting the spring to draw water to take back to their homes for healing.
Aside from this natural phenomenon, the entire resort and its infrastructure, including the swimming pool are built around and with the spring water in a beautiful natural environment. An outdoor amphitheater and auditorium round out the offerings at the resort.
DE BULL RESTAURANT TO OFFER LAGOS MAINLAND A STEAK EXPERIENCE
This restaurant is a steakhouse located in Ikeja for Lagosians on the Mainland, and it is famed for its rich and savoury meat recipes, its internal breath-taking décor, and its customer service. This restaurant comes highly recommended on several food review platforms.
DISCOVER CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE YEMISI SHYLLON MUSEUM
With the exception of the National Museum and the National Theatre (both of which were in disrepair for decades), Lagos has no contemporary, privately funded museums. But Yemisi Shyllon is determined to change that.
He has privately funded the first state of the art contemporary museum in Nigeria, the Yemisi Shyllon Museum, situated within the campus of the Pan African University as a way to ensure that the museum continually inspires the nation’s most brilliant students. Shyllon wants his museum to be more than a repository for art so he is funding educational programs and art grants that will operate annually from the museum. From its unique architecture to its comprehensive and diverse art collection, Yemisi Shyllon museum is a breath-taking site that every Nigerians should visit.
WALK THE LONGEST CANOPY IN AFRICA (LEKKI CONSERVATION CENTRE)
A swath of virgin wildlands is the last thing you’d expect in the Lekki metropolis of Lagos, yet The Lekki Conservation Centre is just that, the Lagos State Government’s attempt to preserve some of the original Lagos biome.
A little hostile to guests with cameras, the Lekki Conservation Centre has become a major relaxation destination, drawing crowds every weekend who want to experience the rare experience of animals in the wild, a network of walkways that cut right through virgin forest and the longest canopy walk in all of Africa.
DANFO BISTRO, THE KING OF NAIJA THEMED RESTAURANTS
In the age of Instagram, themed restaurants have become an important marketing gimmick and as much revenue can be gleaned from charging the Instagram crowd to co-opt the social capital that a ‘hip’ commercial space has as its food. Nigerian businesses are finally getting hip to the idea of the themed restaurants and few restaurants have been able to leverage this idea as well as Danfo Bistro.
Set in upscale Ikoyi, Danfo Bistro builds its decor and theme around the ubiquitous ‘Danfo’, a kind of bus used in Lagos to transport the poorest of passengers. Revamping it into an upscale experience and even creating a high-end version of itinerant food has allowed Danfo to serve rich customers and offer an appealing Instagram photo from any angle – and that mix has kept its upcycled transport container set up in the green.
The Calabar Carnival is a transplant of Caribbean Carnival culture which is a series of annual celebrations undertaken to celebrate the African heritage of Caribbean nations and their refusal to be colonized by Western powers. In Calabar, the carnival’s significance is less intertwined with history but no less fun.
Another project begun by former Governor Donald Duke, the festival has become a yearly celebration, drawing ‘companies’ from around the country and continent who come to the festival to compete for best in choreography, costuming, and complexity of performances. Visit the Calabar Carnival to experience the dance, costumes, food of the Cross River people, stay for the opportunity to meet fellow Carnival lovers from around the world.
BENIN NATIONAL MUSEUM
Edo, home to the old Benin Kingdom has long upheld its pre-colonial customs in spite of colonial pressure and post-colonial urbanization. Its Oba and his lineage continue to hold supreme influence over the lives and affairs of the Bini over whom he presides and Bini traditions of art and architecture are sustained today through artisanal guilds. All of this contemporary Bini art is housed in the Bini National Museum, a companion artifact to the Oba of Benin’s Palace, the singular most powerful structure in the entire city.
Artists like Victor Ehikhamenor have made it their life’s work to support the Bini national museum by advocating for the return of the priceless ceremonial art stolen from the Kingdom and displayed in museums across the world. The Bini Museum holds special significance to its citizens and is a must-see for all lovers of art who wish to see African art in its primary function; not as entertainment but an integral part of ritual life.
OBA OF BENIN PALACE
The Bini people of Edo have had a difficult history. One of the last Nigerian monarchies to fall to British Rule, the ancient and powerful city of Benin was ransacked in a day after years of resistance and the Royal Palace pillaged. Almost 200 years have passed since this event happened but the Bini have continued to revere their palace, the home of the Oba and the seat of political and religious power in the state.
Rife with tradition and honoured by all royal houses and chiefdoms in Edo state, the Palace is the stage for many of the Bini traditions and rituals enacted and as such has been named a UNESCO site to commemorate its importance to African history. Visit the place to see the quarters of the Iyesogie, to understand how culture continues to influence an otherwise cosmopolitan city.
Anyone who has spent a night driving through Lekki Phase 1 has experienced the near eternal traffic that seems couched in front of Farm City Lekki. One of a franchise of Italian restaurants scattered around Lagos, Farm City has expanded its menu to appeal to a variety of palates through a diverse menu and professionals who prepare food from several distinct cuisines.
Its true draw is its easy aesthetic and the quality and diversity of its meal offerings.
APPLES & ORANGES
One of the most prominent spas in Lagos, Apples & Oranges offers several premium spa and treatment services that will have you feeling relaxed after every visit. Its most recent outlet at the Seattle Apartments luxury apartment complex shows that the spa franchise understands its capital market and is bringing the mountain to them.
EKO ATLANTIC CITY
Managed by the Chagoury group and touted by international magazines as the New Dubai, the Eko Atlantic City project has already faced significant challenges even birthing the idea. Rumours continue to swell that waterside communities were evicted for the first round of construction on the city and construction continues to happen as it waits for customers to finally buy and rent and become a part of its dream to become the first technologically sustainable megacity and a sign of what is possible to other emerging markets.
Standing on 10 million square meters of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5-kilometre long sea wall, the city is self-sufficient and sustainable, and it includes state-of-the-art urban design, its own power generation, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads, and tree-lined streets.
EBONY LIFE PLACE IS THE CROWN JEWEL ON MO ABUDU’S CROWN AS QUEEN OF MEDIA
A new lifestyle and entertainment resort located at the heart of Victoria Island, it is the first of its kind in Nigeria. The resort boasts of five cinemas, a rooftop terrace, event spaces, bars, restaurants, and a 20-room boutique hotel called The White Orchid. The EbonyLife place was established by multiple award-winning media mogul, Mo-Abudu, Founder and CEO, EbonyLife TV as an expansion of her franchise.
Curating lifestyle experiences are big with brands who provide services instead of products, fixed prices may not work. Mrs. Abudu runs the place with the shrewdness required to survive in a country that would quicker chew up capitalist entrepreneurs than support them.
This is a serene and beautifully laid out resort with a Hawaiian Island vibe to it. It spots several palapas on the beachfront, accommodation with standard, deluxe, and premium suites, a lagoon front, horse riding, sporting areas and more. It is just a quiet and beautiful place overlooking the waters to come and relax.
WHISPERING PALMS RESORT
Located deep in the heart of Epe town and surrounded by miles and miles of virgin beach resort, Whispering Palms resort is the true definition of a luxury staycation. An exhaustive list of activities has been curated for the guest to entertain themselves and enjoy a frolic by the beach.
Distinguished by its Palm trees and its historical significance (it houses the first storied building built in Nigeria), the resort is a slice of history juxtaposed by the most modern luxury offerings available in any beach resort. Particular about filmed footage, the resort is also a popular destination for filmmakers and music video producers looking to capitalize on its very developed grounds.
Built by a German architect in the 1970s, Kajuru Castle is near perfect in its specifications that you would be forgiven if you mistook it for a genuine medieval castle. Replicating 17th Century architecture with contemporary living comforts, the castle presents the best of themed resort experiences.
For its gargantuan size and Olympic size swimming pool, the Kajuru castle is pretty compact with only four rooms and the main building with a knight’s hall, a master suite, and a barbeque spot. Best experienced as an overnight stay, the Kajuru castle continues to draw tourists to a city better known for its centuries-old traditions and relics of colonial influence.
OSUN SACRED GROVE
As the birthplace of Yoruba culture, South Western Nigeria’s long and complicated relationship with its indigenous cultures and their religions is fraught with self-hate and hypocrisy. Not so for the Osun Grove. On the banks of the Osun river, this pilgrimage site is considered the resting place of the Yoruba Orisha Osun, the goddess of fertility. Her devotees wear white clothing and fall into possessions as the goddess ‘rides’ the back of specially choosing her devotees during the annual Osun festival, attended by tourists from all over the world and Santeria and Lukumi worshippers from South America, the Caribbeans, and North America.
The grove itself is a series of architectural sandstone sculptures made by Yoruba devotee Susan Wenger, who with the support of Osogbo locals created a sacred movement to protect the sacred forest in which the grove is located, restore the sandstone sculptures made in Osun’s honour and ensure that worship of the Orisa is preserved through education.
Open all year long, but especially recommended during the Osun Festival, the grove is a physical manifestation of the power of culture sustained through generations.
Sailor’s Lounge, located close to the Lekki waters, is a fully furnished, relaxed and adventurous lounge overlooking the Lekki Lagoon and the Lekki-Ikoyi Toll Bridge. With a nautical theme, open air dining and a Captain’s Deck with the first floating bar in Nigeria, Sailor’s Lounge is specifically designed to capture the experience of floating atop the ocean for maximum enjoyment. It’s an experience that every night loving Lagosian or tourist should check off their bucket list.
RSVP KITCHEN IS A LEGAL IMMIGRANT SUCCESS STORY
Located at Victoria Island, and run by three generations of Asian-Nigerians, RSVP was one of the first Nigerian restaurants to truly embrace the power of social media as a marketing tool and to model the themed Instagram ready aesthetic that has become the default for new restaurants opening up across the country.
RSVP’s expansion in 2019 opened it up to an outdoor dining experience and helped maximize the restaurant’s renowned menu with options for vegetarian-friendly, vegan options, gluten-free options, all made with ingredients sourced from the restaurants ongoing partnerships with indigenous farms operating in and outside of Lagos.
SHIRO RESTAURANT AND BAR SERVES THE MOST EXPENSIVE BEEF IN LAGOS
A Japanese restaurant complete with era inappropriate giant sculptures, what could be more Lagos than a themed restaurant that bucks its own themes. Shiro which is in the heart of the Landmark luxury dining resort experience is widely considered the best Japanese restaurant in Lagos.
It provides spacious dining options, and the only Beef Wagyu (the most expensive beef available in the world) options in its menu. Offering Asian fusion food, the Shiro provides an extensive Asian cuisine experience for its guests, including sushi and other traditional Japanese foods. The aesthetics of the internal décor is gorgeous, and the service is superb.
OCEAN BASKET BRINGS LEGACY AND LONGEVITY TO FINE DINING
Ocean Basket is almost as notorious for its pedigree as it is for its near inexhaustible combinations of seafood. With a legacy as one of the first seafood restaurants in Lagos, and relatively young too, it has come to define a specific kind of dining in Lagos, a connection to the city’s early history as a fishing town and an example of what fining dining Al-fresco should deliver to its customers.
As Ocean Basket has grown, it has diversified to include branches on the Mainland to serve all of its clients, but many prefer its flagship restaurant in Victoria Island. People go to Ocean Basket for its seafood platter and its fisherman soup, but there is of course, it’s hard to replicate ambience.
ART CAFÉ, THE FIRST TRULY KITSCH DINING EXPERIENCE
Have you ever thought there was too much of a good thing? This is the entire premise of the Art Cafe, a French located tucked in a corner of Lagos and dripping with collected art. From baroque decorations to contemporary pop art, Art Cafe juxtaposes the sacred with the irreverent, daring the guest to sort through its choice and by extension, their own biases.
Art Cafe in line with its French name offers mostly European cuisine, a favorite of artists and creators, the Cafe offers inspiration with every glance.
CACTUS RESTAURANT IS A FAMILY RESTAURANT FOR LAGOS’S INFLUENCER ELITE
There is nary a conversation among the Lagos influencer elite that doesn’t include some mention of Cactus Restaurant. Situated on Ozumba Mbadiwe way, a few miles off the Lekki Toll, this out of the way restaurant is legendary for its breakfast menu and its clientele.
A back garden structured to evoke feelings of Miami dining with open air tents and Palm trees and a clean, spacious interior, the Cactus serves a truly continental menu with the right servings of celebrity sightings depending on who you are brunching with.
TALINDO’S STEAK HOUSE SERVES THE BEST STEAK ON THE ISLAND
There aren’t many restaurants in Lagos dedicated to the steak experience. A decidedly American past time, eating large chunks of meat still juicy with blood will kill the appetites of most Nigerians. But for the truly adventurous, Talindo’s Steak House is a delight with excellent ambience, a variety of steak dishes and a dessert menu that has gone viral in Lagos and spawned the steam lava dessert trend overtaking the city’s pastry kitchens.
A diverse menu that includes seafood and a truly progressive service experience that includes perks like highchairs for families with small children, wheelchair accessibility for the different albed and a full bar, Talindo’s is hard to miss any true food connoisseur that intends to vote for progressiveness with their wallets.
THE PLACE RESTAURANT
How do you build the country’s most successful food franchise? You learn what Nigerians want and give it to them ‘eating or takeaway’. This is what the Nigerian food franchise, The Place has done, opening franchises all across Lagos, sometimes on the same street. With a largely generic menu of Nigerian food staples replicated across all its outlets, a service time that cuts the horrors of Nigerian restaurants to a barest minimum and open locations that are guest friendly, the familiar predictability of The Place has endeared to fans across the country.
Skydive Nigeria is a skydiving outfit in Lagos and the first skydiving initiative in the country for Nigerians who have skydiving aspirations. You no longer need to travel to have the skydiving experience, as the platform offers skydiving as a sport, a recreational activity and a learning experience.
HARD ROCK CAFÉ
As part of the complex of luxury lifestyle brands that make up the Landmark experience centre, the Hard Rock Cafe stands out as a true tourist experience. Franchised the hugely popular American brand, Hard Rock Cafe Lagos is a Rock & Roll themed restaurant located in Oniru Estate, Victoria Island Lagos. It is distinguished by its original Rock & Roll memorabilia, displayed on the walls of the building, its emphasis on performance art, complete with a concert stage and frequent music themed events and a decidedly American menu.
Facing the beach, the cafe also has a swimming pool and a live performance act that performs every evening for its patrons.
MAKOKO FLOATING VILLAGE, CITY AND SPECTACLE
Makoko has had many stories told about it, it has also seen more than its fair share of tourists and saviours. A floating contraption of stilted shacks and buildings, this reclamation of the Lagos Lagoon has built resilient, determined and infinitely interesting people. It also continually attracts foreign and local tourists who are drawn by its story of grit, the ridiculous comparisons between it and the floating city of Venice, and the myriad of photo opportunities.
Ultimately, Makoko is a vibrant community and not a tourist attraction and respecting that as one navigates its infinitely interesting cast of characters. It struggles to find a balance between welcoming guests whose visits boosts its economy or to shut its borders (which might anger the Lagos state government) and devote its resources to advancing the plight of its citizens. This will be one of the questions many tourists will be contemplating as they ride in one of Makoko’s many canoes and greet its citizens.
Relatively young in comparison to many of the other hospitality vendors on this list, Ofada Boy stands out for his attention to detail, his ability to transmute his idea of an African themed Instagrammable restaurant into a living establishment, adored by its fan base and evolving as it streamlines its menu.
TERRA KULTURE WANTS TO TELL ALL YOUR STORIES
Built from the ingenuity, blood, sweat and tears of theatre maven, Bolanle Austen-Peters, Terra Kulture has grown from a small theatre and restaurant to a state-of-the-art entertainment complex with its own cinemas, a contemporary theatre, an art gallery and an African cuisine restaurant.
Restless with her ideas, Austen-Peters is always tweaking her vision to intersect with the expectations and desires of the several generations she hopes to attract to her plays, films and exhibitions. Terra Kulture remains an important cultural hub set up to promote and enhance Nigerian culture, through arts.
VELEKETE SLAVE MARKET
In a country where the government has gone to great lengths to censor our colonial and postcolonial civil war history, it is rare to see the government actually invest properly to invest in or document a piece of history.
The Velekete slave market is one of such endeavours, established in 1502 and surviving after 500 years of urbanization and change. The Velekete market shows that our understanding of pre-colonial history might be simplistic and asks of its guests open mindedness. Major attractions are the slave route used, the stalls where slaves were actually traded for coin or other benefits and memorabilia from that time. Velekete also had an incarnation as a customary court in the pre-colonial era and retains some of the architecture from that time. So you get insight into the peculiarities of pre-colonial architecture.
Tourism has been underdeveloped in Nigeria and this is why few people know about the Awhum Waterfall in Amaugwe village of Awhum town in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu. As with most waterfalls, Awhum is fed by underground water and cascades over a massive outcrop of granite rock that has resisted erosion, pouring into a stream at the base of the outcrop. A section of the fall is warm all year long.
The fall is 30 meters high and is located close to Awhum Monastery. Many tourists and indigenes say the water has healing power and capable of dispelling evil or satanic forces if and wherever sprinkled. As a result, the falls have become a place of Christian pilgrimage and a prayer centre.
ONIKAN, LAGOS ISLAND: GROUND ZERO OF THE LAGOS ART SCENE
Last year, a CNN magazine publication, Time Out, listed Onikan, a Lagos neighbourhood, as one of the coolest places to visit in the world. Only Arroios in Lisbon, Portugal and Shimokitazawa in Tokyo, Japan, were ranked higher than Lagos by the global publication.
According to CNN Travel, Onikan is the place to hang out with artists, writers, designers and Nollywood actors, where “past, present and future collide effortlessly”. The area has an unusual concentration of art-centric spaces. There is the Rele Gallery on Military street, The National Museum which is directly opposite the Muson Centre. Freedom Park, the Lagos City Hall (which host a British Council Office, The Goethe Institut and a number of embassy offices), the Old printing press on Broad Street, the old Independence Building where the 2019 Lagos Biennale was held to name a few. The area also hosts many of the events that Ikoyi based art consultancy, a White Space Agency holds within in the state. You are more likely to meet a practising artist in Onikan than anywhere else in Lagos.
MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT
THE RISE OF THE MARLIANS
As a rapper, Naira Marley had released a string of mid-level hits while living in the United Kingdom. He relocated to Nigeria to try his luck in the bustling Afrobeats scene bubbling out of Lagos and into the continent. A chance opportunity to record the jingle for the 2018 Football World Cup was a catalyst for success. Naira Marley’s career took off after he released the song “Issa goal”, the official Nigerian Anthem for the World Cup.
But it was Naira Marley’s antics, his complete disregard for constituted authority and his unique wordplay that would keep him top of mind of an easily distracted paying audience.‘Soapy’, his song about masturbation and ‘Am I A Yahoo Boy?’, a song many argued glorified fraud, successfully expanded his fanbase and rebranded him anti-hero.
The Marlians are now part of the eclectic Nigerian pop culture biome of niches, representing a set of followers who believe that they exist out of the norm, are totally against the establishment, and revel in being feared for having “no manners.”
CARDI B SHOWS THE WORLD NIGERIA IS THE FUNNEST PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
As Cardi B left Nigeria after a whirlwind weekend that included twerking in front of the Zenith Bank christmas decoration and beer at Silverfox, the Grammy award-winning artiste took a few minutes to update her Insta-stories with videos of herself dancing to songs by Davido and Burna Boy. She even nicknamed herself ‘Chioma B’, tried Nigerian Cuisine and shopped at the Ebeano store in Lekki, remarking that it reminded her of her childhood in the Dominican Republic.
Cardi B showed the world that with the right chaperone and the right attitude, Nigerian can be an incredibly welcoming place. Her humour and genuine curiosity won her fans in places where traditionally no one would have paid her no mind and proved that the woman’s success could not be solely attributed to her polarizing music. During her stay, people made jokes on Twitter to express how much the rapper has done for the tourism industry in Nigeria in a single weekend as compared to the ministry of tourism.
TIK-TOK; A TRUE CONTENDER FOR THE BIG THREE
Chinese-owned Tik-tok rose from the churn of social media apps being developed to compete with the big three (Twitter/Facebook/Instagram) to become a digital powerhouse. The premise behind the app is simple, it builds off the main feature of formerly viral app Muisc.ally which is the ability to create video montages to music and adds the shareability of Facebook and the glitzy filters and features of Instagram. This combination has proven popular with Gen-Z content creators for whom meme value and virality are strong incentives to adopt an app.
In the first quarter of 2019, Tik-Tok overtook Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to become the most downloaded iOS app and third most downloaded on Google Play. The app is currently the 16th most popular social media app in Nigeria, and for a short period in April, it was the 8th overall most popular Android app in Nigeria (overtaking Instagram by two places) and the third most popular social media app on Google Play (while Instagram was at 4th place).
MASTERCLASSES ON THE INTERNET
The Masterclass has gone virtual. No longer constrained by physical distance or prohibitive data costs, many more Nigerians are quenching their thirst for knowledge by seeking out masterclasses, paying for patreon subscriptions and using their personal funds to improve their lives.
As with all novelties, the virtual masterclass has spawned a bad faith element with the system quickly gaining a bad rep thanks to fraud. The trend will be saved by the young professionals and reputable organisations actually transferring valuable knowledge, but it is not unusual to find unqualified people holding masterclasses.
A consequence of the widespread adoption of social media in Nigerian youth circle is the speed with which contemporary slang goes viral and is then folded into contemporary language. The internet requires an ever evolving shorthand to convey complex emotions with the prerequisite that a single phrase be able to change meaning based on the context.
Many slangs got folded into colloquial language in 2019 but none were as mainstream as the God When meme. Used as a way to express muted admiration and slight envy for the fortunes of others, God When began as a rejoinder for public declarations of affection or intimacy but spread to other uses. The slang has currently evolved to a basic format of Oluwa, wetin dey_______?, filled with the active verb of the situation that is being responded to. Used for comedic effect and satire, these slangs are impossible to ignore if you intend to parse popular Nigerian culture in 2019/2020.
SUGAR RUSH HAS TO ANSWER FOR ITS DIRECTORIAL CHOICES
For reasons that largely remain unclear, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) pulled one of Nigeria’s highly anticipated films, Sugar Rush, from the cinema just a few days after its release. While the board explained that the movie was temporarily banned due to the expiration of its temporary approval, the viral conversations on social media largely stated it was due to an embarrassing portrayal of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the movie.
The film returned in a week, but it has raised important questions about the limits of the power of the National Film Censor’s Board and censorship in Nigerian cinema.
SANDRA IKEJI’S 200 BRIDESMAIDS DIDN’T BREAK THE INTERNET, BUT SHE’LL SETTLE FOR A GUINNESS WORLD RECORD
The Ikeji family have long been trendsetters in Nigerian media. Linda Ikeji, the de-facto matriarch of the family has broken international records, distinguishing herself as the most paid blogger on the continent. Since then she has leveraged her wealth and access as a media mogul to push her family into the limelight.
Last year, her younger sister Sandra Ikeji set out to break the Guinness World Record for the most bridesmaids in a wedding. The record was previously broken by Tina Akles (USA) in 2015, who had 168 bridesmaids in attendance. Sandra Ikeji overshot the record 32 bridesmaids to record a total of 200 bridesmaids in attendance at her wedding on January 11, 2020. The Ikeji sisters are determined to leverage the power of spectacle to sustain their public image and grow a powerful insulated brand similar to the Kardashians.
ALIKO DANGOTE WANTS A PIECE OF ARSENAL
Serial entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote hasn’t built his fortune as Africa’s richest man by playing it safe. From explorations in oil and gas, cement and bitumen and food produce, Dangote has bet his wealth on the fact that there is value on the continent and that value can be extracted by the right person.
But Dangote is also a man of passion, and one of his biggest passions is football. For the last 8 years, Dangote has expressed his intention to buy a controlling stake in British heritage football club Arsenal FC. Recently, he disclosed in an interview that by 2021, he has set plans in motion to make this decade long dream a reality.
It is yet to be seen if the current owner will be interested in selling, especially with the club’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke saying he will never sell the club. 2021, here we come.
Trends are fairly easy to predict on social media, until they are not. Trends, usually delineated by hashtags revolve around a topic happening away from the media channel. Noting the case of the trio of phrases that have overrun Twitter over the last few months.
O Je wa Ke Eng (which roughly translates to what is bothering you in Sesotho) was first used on social media by @Keabetswe, after which it went viral. Something about the phrase spurred millions of confessional responses, turning Twitter into one large therapy session. Since then the phrase’s meaning has been watered and two other phrases, Bomboclaat (with Caribbean origins) and Sco pa tu mana (which was gibberish lifted from a viral Ghanaian song) have become informal prompts that Twitter users employ to engage in discussions about any and every subject.
THE NEVER-ENDING TACHA TREND
It’s been months since Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) Pepper Dem came to an end, but Natasha ‘Tasha’ Akidi has somehow managed to escape the post BBN ratings slump and continue to trend on social media. Her dedicated fandom has trended everything from #Tasha-Anything (#SimplyTasha, #TashaXDonJazzy, #TashaXKhafi, etc.) on social media taking any opportunity to promote the entrepreneur.
Even though she was unceremoniously evicted from last year’s BBN show, she constantly trends on social media due to co-ordinated Twitter conversations, including thousands of comments by her over-enthusiastic fans.
COMEDIAN BASKETMOUTH’S ‘THE SECRETS OF LULU’
In 2018, Bright Okpocha was featured in a Netflix special about comedians across the world and how their acts perpetuate dangerous stereotyping. In his segment, which featured comedians from Nigeria, Akpocha (otherwise known as Basketmouth) was accused of endorsing rape with receipts that went back nearly a decade.
Eager to shed this image to the international press, Akpocha in late 2019 began a new serialized show called the ‘Secrets of Lulu’. The show features prominent Nigerian celebrities and goes to great lengths to celebrate femininity and dismantle much of the stereotyping that was prevalent in his earlier work. It has proven a smash hit and shown that even the most incorrigible of public personalities need the right push to turn a new leaf.
DAVIDO UNFOLLOWS CHIOMA, THEN RE-FOLLOWS HER
On Saturday, January 18, 2020, famous singer Davido unfollowed his fiancee, Chioma on Instagram and caused panic amongst fans. To make matters worse, Perruzzi who has been wrapped up in his own controversy was rumoured to have had an affair with Chioma before she hooked up with the singer and label owner. Many young Nigerians heaved a collective sigh when Davido followed Chioma again, bringing much-needed relief to Nigeria’s social media world.
AIRTEL TAKES A LEAF FROM APPLE AND LAUNCHES ITS OWN STREAMING SERVICE
Mobile service provider, Airtel recently expanded its products to include an online TV streaming service. The app is streaming from Airtel Xstream App, YouTube, Netflix and Prime Video. Airtel TV marks the second Nigerian corporation (after GTBank) to dabble in the streaming wars with its own dedicated app.
SPEED DARLINGTON VS TUNDE EDNUT
It’s no secret that there’s bad blood between the US-based Nigerian artiste, Speed Darlington and blogger, Tunde Ednut. Lately, things seemed to have escalated as Speed Darlington sent death threats to Tunde via social media, informing the blogger to “stop posting my videos.”
*This piece is woven from intelligence out of the Culture Intelligence (Ci) team at RED. Ci’s methodology is based on five key elements: random sampling surveys, meta analysis of existing quantitative data, our proprietary focus group model, data points from the backends of our media products (TV, web and social) and The Resonance Test filtered via our curated panel of producers and editors. Intelligence customized for clients includes access to raw data.