Makurdi is a city of 365,000 people (2016), and the capital of Benue state of North Central Nigeria. It sits in a very agricultural area along the Benue River with the fitting moniker of food basket of the nation. It is home to Benue State University, University of Agriculture, Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering, headquarters of the 72 Airborne Battalion, and The State Headquarters of the Department of Customs and Excise. Being the state capital, it houses the government house and head offices of all important government agencies and businesses. While it may be not possess exquisite hotels and resorts for an holiday, it is indeed a place to visit if you want to enjoy local cuisines, dance and cultural events.
Makurdi is more of a political and administrative city than is commercial. It is also a major transport route between the north and south of Nigeria. It is predominantly made up of the Tiv tribe, who have been in leadership since civilian rule, then the Idoma, Igede, Etulo people. The capital is majorly a Christian city, with Muslims and African traditional religion making the minority. The city is quite accommodating as it is the cultural capital of the state.
It will be worthy to not be very judgmental as the town is slow, laid-back and the activity of alcohol drinking is very high. As long as you do not go poking into their business, you'll be just fine.
The city is mostly warm with an average temperature of 32°C. It gets warmer during the dry seasons and rainfall is plenty during the rainy season. There are occasional flooding in the river banks during high rainfall.
It is on the main narrow gauge railway line running north from Port Harcourt.
There are regular bus services linking Makurdi to neighbouring towns.
Prominent among shuttle service providers are the Benue Links with their park in Makurdi stationed opposite Access Bank at the Wurukum axis of the City and the God’s will Transport Services, Pleasure Travels which is opposite Benue Links, Nyanya Transport Company, Yaman Transport Company. They leave early so be sure to check in on time.
Major Nigerian airways and other private airlines provide air links between Makurdi and cities like Abuja, Lagos, Calabar, and Port Harcourt. The airport is not very far from the city centre. There are shuttles (private and commercial) that ply the route from the airport to other parts of the city.
Makurdi has a Makurdi Rail Bridge that provides the only rail link between the northern and eastern parts of Nigeria.
Situated in the middle belt of the country, it has major roads that is accessible from all parts of the country. Makurdi to Lafia, Minna, Jos Road in the north. To the south we have the Makurdi to Otukpo, Enugu, Owerri, to Calabar in Cross River State.
Very important and a busy route is that which leads to the west. The Makurdi to Yandev to Katsina Ala to Wukari roads.
Makurdi has a river that flows all year round, higher during the rainy season and shallow in some parts during the dry season. There are no high-end sea vessels but one can find engine boats, paddled boats and some steam engine boats. The water transport is one area yet to be harnessed.
The major means of moving around Makurdi is shuttle mini buses, motorcycles and tricycles (keke-napep). It is advisable, if going there for the first time not to move about in the night and do have a local guide as the roads can be a bit overwhelming. And also to avoid touts and street gangs.
There are two bridges which connect the southern and northern banks of the River Benue. One is the dual carriageway bridge for pedestrians and vehicles while the other is the rail bridge.
The buses ply all routes in the city. The average cost depends on the length of your trip with the minimum being ₦50. You can get a bus for virtually anywhere in the city centre. It is advisable to ask what route that they will be taking so as not to go off your intended route. While most of the buses are old, there are ones in good shape and do not worry about it breaking down on the way.
Ahh! The preferred choice of movement if urgency and important is the word. Bikes are the fastest and can take you to your doorstep, unlike buses. However it is not advisable for long distances as the fare will be really expensive. These bikes are commonly known as Okada. They are quick, cheap, and save a lot of walking. You should try this option if you do not know exactly where you are going as most of them know the city off hat. Negotiation is key. You do not want to be outsmarted as they will quickly know if you are a newbie to town.
Before you try and negotiate any transportation fare, always confirm the fare from a local. If you have a Nigerian friend, let them negotiate for you as the quoted fare differs greatly for locals and foreigners.
- 1 River Benue Bank. You can stop along the bank of the Benue River here to watch the locals fish with nets in the not exactly pristine water and maybe catch a sunset.
- 2 Makurdi Zoological Garden (on the Benue State University campus), ☏ . This appears to be a rather primitive zoological park with few animals, but it is something to pass the time if here in Makurdi.
While the city may not be able to boast of great scenes and activities, you can go a boat cruise on the River Benue. Remember to go with a guard.
Get served the very notable and popular local foods.
Go on a shopping spree at the city’s shopping malls and local markets.
Enjoy the city’s nightlife at any of the city’s bubbling night hangout spots. There are clubs to visit too.
- 1 Wurukum Market. If you want the real deal of an outdoor Nigerian market, this might just fit your bill. Come prepared for the raw, real experience with all the sights and smells. Don't forget the handwipes if you have any.
- 1 Dexters Restaurant, Old Otukpo Rd, Wurukum, ☏ . Longtime Makurdi establishment. Jollof rice, chicken, yogurt, etc.
- 2 Ark City Cafe And Grill, Atoshi Cl Rd, ☏ . Fairly upscale dining location with shawarma, grills, and fancy drinks.
- 1 Benue Hotels & Resort, No 5/7 Ahmadu Bello Way, ☏ . This is a well-liked hotel with some class. It has a restaurant, pool (complete with peacocks, mind you), gym, and comfortable interior halls. May be a little pricey according to some.
Most locations in Makurdi have 2G/3G/4G mobile network coverage. Service may be disrupted the farther away you go from the city center, and you might occasionally experience network outage for all or some of the mobile phone service providers in those remote areas of the city. Different networks tend to be more stable and reliable in different locations of the city at different times.
If you are planning a visit to this city, you should probably consider having multiple SIM cards, preferably for all the mobile service providers, since you can't tell which will be more stable and reliable at a time in your location during your visit. And if you will risk not having any of them, you might be better off not risking the MTN network, because, from indications, it seem to perform well than the others, though its rates may be high and its offers and services might be stringent, but you are less likely to be concerned of erratic voice and data connection compared to others.
Airtel is another service provider which is fairly satisfactory for all you might need to connect to the world, including rates and network stability. Of course, Glo (or Globacom) boasts of fast network speed for internet browsing activities, but that might not be enjoyable in some locations in Makurdi. And 9Mobile usually also performs well in internet browsing speed but not without locational limitations.