Lokoja is the capital city of Kogi State, a state in North Central part of Nigeria. It is sited at the confluence of the rivers Niger and Benue.
Lokoja has a long and rich history, and it was the capital of the former Northern Protectorate, presided over by Lord Frederick Lugard. Lokoja town and its river port is located on the west bank of River Niger opposite the opening of River Benue.
Lokoja is situated in the middle belt of Nigeria in the confluence of River Niger and River Benue. The city is located on the local highway between Kabba and Ayangbe and it has ferry service across the Niger River as well.
In the late 1850s, British merchants established a trading post at the Benue-Niger confluence, and in 1860 a Scottish explorer by name William Balfour Baikie founded Lokoja. Lokoja was the capital of Kabba province and was also part of Kwara state from 1967 to 1991 before it finally became the capital of the newly created Kogi state.
Lokoja became reputable mainly as a result of its location at the confluence of the two great waterways in West Africa, that is River Niger and River Benue. These natural waterways served as major means of transportation and communication especially for the riverside inhabitants during the colonial era.
Also as a result of the location of the area at the confluence of Niger and Benue rivers, Lokoja served as a commercial meeting point during the east-west kolanut trade in West Africa. Lokoja became internationally reputable with the coming of the Europeans, when it served as the first British settlement in Nigeria and as a major inland port for European companies.
Due to its central location of the town, the capital city has become a hub for the migration from the insecure North to the South. Lokoja is separated in neighboirhoods and surrounded by hills and mountains, the most significant being Mount Patty (750 m). The city buildings are mostly single houses or bungalows with one or two floors built as solid structures of cement bricks. There is no densification in the building pattern.
Lokoja grew to become a metropolitan settlement inhabited mainly by different ethnic groups from other Middle Beltan states and Hausa Fulani from northern region of the country. The Oworo, Bassa Nge and Nupe are indigenous to the area, However, other ethnic groups of the country such as the Kupa-Nupe, Hausa, Ebira, Igala, Igbo, Bini/Edo, and Tiv have recently established themselves in the area. This cosmopolitan status hitherto remains the major problem of the area as different ethnic groups especially the Oworo, Nupe, Igbirra, Igala and Hausa continually lay claim and counterclaim to the ownership of the town. These issue have affected the growth and development of the area since the independence of the country.
The town is a gathering point for raw agricultural produces such as cotton, leather, and palm oil and kernels, which are shipped for export to the Niger delta ports of Burutu and Warri. Fulani herdsmen from the north drive their cattle across the Niger to Lokoja in the dry season.
Lokoja is also a trade centre for farm products like yams, manioc (cassava), sorghum, beans, corn (maize) palm produce, shea nuts, as well as fish and cotton which is mainly produced by the local Igbira people. Cotton ginning and weaving and palm and shea kernel processing are important local activities. There are also limestone and iron deposits in the area and nearby Mount Patti, which was the original site of Lokoja and it is 1,349 foot, some 411-metre high mass of oolitic iron ore.
Some of the towns and communities in Lokoja include: Adankolo, Ahubana, Lokon-Goma, Meme-Bridge, Sarkin-Noma, Adana, Agbaja, Ageni, Agodo, Ahuji, Akpata, Baji, Banda, Batake, Budon, Choko-Choko , Denbor, Ebo, and Eggan. Some of the neighboring communities around Lokoja are: Adavi, Abaji, Ajaokuta, Bassa, Ijumu, Kabba/Bunu, Kogi, Okehi, Pategi, Agaie, Katcha, Lapai, and Mokwa.
The estimated population of the area was 692,050 in 2020. Lokoja has an area of 3,186 km².
Language and culture
Lokoja is a multilingual and multicultural community in the sense that there are diverse languages and cultures ranging from Yoruba, Ebira (Okene), Ebira (Koto), Bassa (Nge), Bassa (Komu), Igala, Pidgin, Hausa, Nupe, Igbo, English, and different other languages are the common means of communication in the area.
Lokoja's climate is tropical with a rainy and a dry season. The temperature of the area is generally high. The highest temperature is usually experienced in the afternoon.
Visitors, travellers and tourists can get into Lokoja by plane through the use of the closest international airport which is the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja because the town does not have an international airport yet.
Also, visitors and tourists can get into Lokoja by road through a couple of road transport companies that have their terminal in the area. Some of the road transport companies include:
- 1 ABC Transport Plc, No 178 Hammed Bello Way, Opposite New Market, adjacent Texaco Petrol Station, ☏ , . .
- 2 Peace Mass Transit Limited, No 1 Sarki-Noma, Lokoja/Abuja Expressway, By Nartoco Junction, after Matrix Filling Station, ☏ , .
- 3 Ifex Express Limited, No 99, IBB Way, ☏ , .
Motorcycles, tricycles popularly known as Keke Napep and commercial buses contribute significantly to the number of automobiles that aid movement in and around the Lokoja.
Lokoja is an interesting place to be, with several amazing sights to see. Some of the interesting places for visitors to see include:
- The Iron of Freedom
- Confluence Island
- Agbaja hill
- 1 Mount Patti. A 1500-foot-tall mountain (350 m) which provides magnificent views of the surrounding landscape once you climb to the top.
- 2 World War Cenotaphs. A war memorial erected in remembrance of the soldiers that lost their lives during both world wars.
- The tourism board of Kogi State
- Concrete pillar of British Government
- Lord Lugard’s Bank Safe
- Lord Lugard’s colonial two-room resthouse on Mount Patti
- Kogi State Government House (formerly the headquarters of Lord Frederick Lugard)
- 3 Iron of Liberty, Taiwo Rd. 8AM-6PM. An historical monument of the city that tells the story of freedom, the spot where slaves were freed by anti-slavery colonialists.
- 4 European Cemetry. A burial ground of missionaries and European soldiers of the West African Force stationed at Lokoja during the eighteenth century.
There are two notable festivals in Lokoja. They are:
- Donkwo fishing festival: Donkwo Fishing Festival is an annual fishing held in festival in Lokoja.
- New yam festival: This is a festival that is celebrated annually to mark the harvest of new yam.
Lokoja has three major markets; they are:
- New Market (International Market)
- Old Market and
- Kpata Market
Kpata Market and New Market have their market day every five days. The essential products sold in these markets are grains, vegetables and general household items.
Popular street foods include steamed bean cake (moimoi, apapa), fried bean cake (akara), with a side of bread or corn pap; donkwa (groundnut dumplings), fried yam, fried potatoes, and bean porridge. In local eateries, you might decide to try out pounded yam with egusi soup, or efo riro. Jollof rice is quite popular here, just like most other places in Southwestern Nigeria.
If you are visiting Lokoja for the first time, you wouldn't want to stay all through without having a bite of the city's sumptious meals. Some of the prominent eateries in the town for visitors to enjoy delicious food include:
- 1 Bigg Brother's Restaurant, opposite 1st Nigeria Army Barracks Gate. Daily. This spot is a hotel with a notable restaurant. It is situated opposite the 1st Nigeria Army Barracks Gate in Lokoja, and this makes the place well secured. It is also located at the city gate, making it very accessible for travelers. It is one of the best restaurants in the arae for first-timers in the city. They have various delicacies that are carefully selected. A visitor can treat him/herself to local and intercontinental meals in the beautiful environment of the restaurant.
- EdgeDrive; This is also a hotel with a well air-conditioned restaurant inside. It is located close to the Government House, GRA, Lokoja. This place has a well secured and cool environment. There is also 24 hours power supply, powering the air conditions all through the day, and lighting the entire surrounding of the restaurant.
- 2 Karomsi Garden, Off Ganaja Junction Hotel. Daily. The restaurant is inside a hotel off Ganaja Junction. This area is in the middle of the confluence city where all the bustling of the nightlife takes palce. A variety of well-trimmed plants and flowers adorn the entire surrounding. Their food are quite fantastic, and the seat setting is perfect for having a meal with friends and family. Additionally, there are chairs and tables outside for customers who wish to eat just under the sky and there is a regular drinking bar and a bush bar as well.
- BlueBell On-Site Restaurant; sited at Honorable Yusuf Avenue, Beach Community, Ganaja Road, Lokoja, Kogi state. It’s very close to Barbie Supermarket, 1.5 km, Ikoyi Market, 0.9 km, and the Kogi State Government House. Bluebell on-site restaurant offers a variety of national and continental dishes with a fine dining. Each table is set with napkins and cutlery so that customers or visitors can pick the appropriate one for their meal. The restaurant is gracefully arranged and has a very serene and comfortable environment.
- The Gruve is one of the best restaurants in Lakoja. By design, everything goes together aesthetically. The lights in the restaurant gives a dim look, which in turn produces a lovely atmosphere, especially in the evening and night time. The restaurant is in one of the calm areas of the State University. It is one of the best places to have a meal in Anyigba, not only for the beauty of the environment, but also for their sumptious meals, and their meals are always served with a large chunk of chicken unlike some other restaurants around.
- Shawarma and Grill; This restaurant is located at New Chucks Shopping Mall. They offer quite affordable meals for virtually all kinds of budget. This spot is not just one of the best restaurants in the town where one can get different kinds of confectionaries but it is also one of the most affordable restaurants. They have been commended often for their exceptional customer service, and for the taste of their meals unlike some other restaurants around.
- 3 Angie's Place, Aliu Attah Road Township. Daily. This eatery sells yummy Ice creams, Waffles, and cakes. It is one of the best spots located at Aliu Attah Road Township/Government Reserved Area (GRA) Lokoja where you can get assorted types of pasteries. The place has a very cool and ambient environment.
Lokoja has a couple of hotels to cater to travellers accommodation needs. Prominent among them include:
- 1 Hotel Charvid. US$25 per night.
- 2 Hotel Bluebell. US$25 per night.
- 3 Fen Hotel. US$27 per night.
- Saatof Hotel and Suite
- Suitoria Hotels
- Rock Garden Hotels and suites