We have all heard about Lokoja, may be even driven thorough it on your way to some other part of Nigeria and you have probably never thought about it as more than a transit city or the confluence city that ties River Benue and River Niger but there is so much more to Lokoja than you may be aware of. Here are 7 things you probably did not know about the city of Lokoja.
- Lokoja was the first settlement of the British in Nigeria. In fact, the name Nigeria was coined by flora Shaw in Lokoja, a British journalist who later married Fredrick Lugard. It was said, Flora coined the name Nigeria while gazing out at the river that stretched before her in the late 19th century.
- Lokoja was the first administrative and commercial capital of Nigeria when Lord Lugard became the Governor General of Nigeria after Mungo Park, Richard and John Landers explored the River Niger in 1830’s.
- Lokoja was the trade distribution center for an agricultural region and had food processing industries. With the arrival of the Europeans, the city served as a major inland port for European companies .
- Lokoja was said to be a prominent center for slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries due to its strategic location and also later served as a center for freedom from slavery . The late Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther erected the Iron of Liberty at a spot where slaves were set free in Lokoja. he also erected the first primary school in Northern Nigeria in Lokoja
- It served as a practice ground for distance education by many Northern Nigerian Emirs in the 1800’s. During the colonial era, a number of Northern feudal lords who vehemently opposed colonial rule and domination of their territories by the European imperialists were banished to Lokoja as punishment by the Colonialists. What the colonialists did not realize was that, these Emirs used the distance education method to keep in constant touch with their subjects and were continually a step ahead of the colonialists who never seized to be amazed at how informed and intelligent the people they sought to colonize were.Notable among the deposed Emirs who perfected the traditional form of distance learning included the Late Emir of Bida, Mallam Mohammed Baashir, deposed in 1901, the late Emir of Zaria, Mallam Aliyu Dansidi and the late emir of Kano, Mallam Aliyu Abdullahi deposed in 1903. These forerunners of the Nigeria style of open and distance learning have their graves in Lokoja.
- Historical relics such as the Lugard House, the first primary school in northern Nigeria, the first cantonment church, the first hospital in northern Nigeria, Iron of Liberty, graveyards of the deposed emirs and Europeans commentaries are major tourism attractions which continue to bring people from all works of life to the town.
- Kogi is contiguous to nine(9) states in Nigeria and is essentially a transit route to sixteen other states including the FCT. Lokoja which is the capital city also saddles some strategic roads to at least, five Geo-political zones out of the six Geo-political zones in Nigeria.
These seven reasons and many more yet unexplored is the reason why Lokoja is so much more than just a transit town, it is indeed Lokoja the great city.