Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, is widely regarded as the largest indigenous city in Africa, south of the Sahara. The city has witnessed incredible growth over the years which has seen her population rise from just over 120,000 people in 1893 when it became a British Protectorate to almost 4million today (2006 estimates).
Sentiments aside, I strongly believe that placed side by side with Abuja, Ikeja, Port Harcourt, Kano and many major Nigerian cities, Ibadan remains the best to reside. And some of these reasons give roots to my beliefs.
Ibadan offers a unique blend of the old and the new, something only Kano can boast of. Parts of the city's ancient protective walls still stand till today, which attract tourists all year round.
A drive round town will reveal that Ibadan still strives to maintain its old, indigenous core area among which include the Oba’s market (Oja’ba) and the king’s palace.
From high atop the Mopo Hill, you can easily see the sea of rusted brown roofs and buildings in places like Agugu, Ayeye, Idi Arere, Odinjo, Gege and Foko, to mention but a few.
Ibadan is truly as unique as history says she is.
With its strategic location on the railway line connecting Lagos to Kano, the city is a major centre for trade in cassava, cocoa, cotton, timber, rubber, and palm oil.
Many markets, thrice as many as Lagos can boast of, have been set up to display these choice goods.
Oja’ba, Ayeye and Oranyan are chief among the traditional markets, while Gbagi, Agbeni, Bodija, Alesinloye, Agbeni and Gate are a few of the modern ones.
They trade foodstuff, textile goods, locally woven strips of cloth or ‘aso oke’, household utensils, electronics and pharmaceuticals. Intending traders have a wide variety of items to chose to sell while entrepreneurs have many products to build businesses on.
Anyone who mistakes the gentility of a lion to mean cowardice will be stunned by the alluring sights Ibadan can showcase despite being an historical city.
I dare say 'ancient' Ibadan is far from a 'boring city' as you can catch some fun visiting several exciting and attracting spots that litter the city.
There's the Cocoa House (the first skyscraper in Nigeria), the Mapo Hall (the colonial style city hall perched on top of a hill), the Agodi Gardens, and the cultural centre in Mokola.
Lovers of fast food when they come to Ibadan won’t miss Abuja a jot.
Fast food joints like Mr Biggs and Tantalizers are sited on major roads and in popular areas for easy access. You cannot drive for half an hour in any direction within Ibadan without coming in contact with one of these joints which serve up a few intercontinental and local dishes too aside the regular snacks, ice cream and drinks.
Even tastier and homely are the local bukaterias popularly known as 'Mama put' kitchen.
These informal canteens offer good food at half the price and welcome all-comers irrespective of status. They number in their hundreds and can be found on nearly every street in Ibadan.
Are you a football fanatic? Regular football is served by Ibadan's favourite sports club, 3SC, at the Adamasingba stadium.
Do you intend to keep fit, then try the Liberty Stadium, the first stadium built in West Africa, with its exercise facilities. Also the golf course inside the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is a dream spot for golf enthusiasts.
Football, basketball, boxing and sprints are popular sports in Ibadan and you will find good training facilities for no cost at atimes.
No Lagos-like traffic to drive you mad, anywhere in the city.
Getting around town is easy and cheap. Commercial buses ply all routes and there are cabs and taxis available to take you on personalised trips.
There are also Okadas who navigate the inner roads away from the highways.
What more, you can board a direct bus from the 'Ancient city' to nearly all major cities in Nigeria. Ibadan has an airport for journeys out of town. The city is also served by the Ibadan Railway Station on the main railway line from Lagos to Kano.
Thus, the city is assuredly well linked by road, rail and air.
Not enticed by the enduring charm of the old? The 'City at the edge of the Savannah boasts several housing estates that aim to cater for the needs of her growing class.
For classy and affordable ones, look towards Jericho, Owode and Felele Housing Estates.
I rank highly as well the Apata, Oluyole and Lagelu Housing Estates. That is not to forget other fast-developing areas of the city like Eleyele, Ikolaba, Akobo, Monatan, Adegbayi, Olodo and Olomi.
Rent is often times way cheaper than in Lagos as well as the cost of buying a home.
Are you still in pursuit of academic knowledge? Do you have kids who you desire to train in the finest educational environment Nigeria can provide?
Then Ibadan is the place to be. Her avalanche of numerous primary and post primary institutions, such as the University of Ibadan (the first University in the country) is the envy of other cities.
There’s also The Polytechnic Ibadan, and research institutes like the Nigeria Institute of Statistical and Environmental Research (NISER) and the Institute of Agriculture, Research Training (IAR & T), where development is studied and planned.
Not to ignore private Universities like the City University of Ibadan, and a host of private secondary institutions which give credence to her claim of being one of the best academic centres in the country.
Very few cities in Nigeria have the same potential for economic and infrastructural growth as the home of Oluyole.
The Ibadan-Oyo-Ogbomoso Highway is nearing completion. Urgent reconstruction work is also ongoing on the Ibadan – Lagos and the Ring Road – Adeoye Express ways.
These projects will obviously open up new areas in Ibadan for the establishment of institutional areas, housing and industrial estates.
The future of Ibadan is bright. And you can be a huge part of it! Why not take advantage of the opportunities in Ibadan right away.
The city is totally free of religious and tribal violence, which ensures it rarely appears on the map of 'hot zones' or 'no-go areas' of Nigeria.
Hausas, Yorubas, Igbos and the lots of others tribes reside in near-perfect harmony and mutual respect in Ibadan.
In fact, Ibadan is the Number One place people run to when crises and violence erupts in other parts of the country. The people are welcoming and accommodating, translating that almost every Nigerian tribe is ably represented in the city.
You will find peace in this great city and nowhere else in the country can you and your family feel safer.
Why not plan your next visit to Ibadan and we will gladly help to connect you with a tour guide and the best places to stay in town.