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Busola Idowu: The Lagos-Abuja Dichotomy



dreamstime_m_11683471Lagos people believe Lagos is the next best thing after sliced bread or maybe even New York. Abuja people disagree. Lagos is the centre of excellence. The city that never sleeps, always alive and constantly evolving. It is the commercial, social and economic nerve centre of Nigeria. Infact there is a saying that if you can make it in Lagos you can make it anywhere. The hustle and bustle which discourages non-Lagosians is the pull for Lagosians.
Growing up in Kaduna, Lagos was one fun place to visit and I looked forward to the yearly Christmas/Easter vacations down south.

For one, Gala was not sold anywhere outside the shores of Lagos until a few years ago, at least not in the north and I’m talking about the early/mid nineties. For another, Lagos had a lot of beaches which made outings and picnics all the more fun. I had dozens of relatives in Lagos and was always treated like a super special guest all the way from the northern territories and this was especially fun.

Anyway, this article is not meant to extol the virtues of Lagos but to attempt a very base comparison of the two major cities in Nigeria. Lagos was also reputed to be the proverbial den of robbers and all manners of criminal elements. It seemed as though the city harboured all the crimes conceivable in Nigeria as reported by NTA Newsline with Frank Olize. Then there were the infinite traffic gridlocks, uniquely Lagos.

My experience in Abuja was very different. Abuja is calm, cool and collected, especially if one is mobile, lives and works within the metropolis. I lived in Utako, worked at the Federal Secretariat and went to church in Maitama, a simple, very short circle. Major fun spots are also located within the Wuse II, Central Area and Maitama axis and except to visit, I rarely had anything to do outside the city.

Driving in Abuja is also very sweet. Although non-residents believe Abuja people cannot drive, just because we are able to comfortably drive 100-120km/hr on a minor or even major road within town. I mean, the roads are so wide, and you would not even know you were going so fast. Potholes are few and far between, in fact, you will marvel at how often some roads are maintained while others outside the city have not even been graded talk more of tarred.
Even the criminals are a bit less pushy in Abuja than in Lagos. I entered a cab popularly known as ‘one chance’ in Abuja some time back and as soon as I got wind of their intentions, I asked to be let out of the vehicle to which they quickly obliged before they sped off. I doubt if this would have happened in Lagos. However, in recent times, there has been an upsurge in criminal activity which I hope would be nipped in the bud.

Electricity is also fairly good and for the first time in my life, I lived in an area where no matter how fierce the storm, ‘’NEPA’’ would not strike. I learned that it was because most of the electric wires and cables are located underground which reduces the likelihood of weather interference.

Of course, nothing good comes easy. This amount of convenience does not come cheap. Needless to say, Abuja has some of the highest rent rates in Nigeria, ridiculously high in fact. For government workers and small business owners who constitute the majority of residents, living within Abuja ‘town’ is virtually impossible. I believe Lagos is a bit more affordable in terms of accommodation and one could probably get a reasonably priced and convenient place to stay ‘in town’.

Eventually, one has to weigh the pros and cons of each city if presented with an opportunity in both, or even any city around the world, do your research, pray and make the final choice.

Photo Credit:

Busola Abayomi-Adebayo is a lawyer, public servant and occasional writer. she's passionate about information and just about anything newsworthy. Follow her on twitter @busolaidowu'


  1. Ezinne Osuagwu

    August 24, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I was born in Kaduna, raised in Lagos, frequent Abuja visitor, and I’ll tell you, though I love my terrible Lagos, you can’t beat the calm of Abuja. That said, you guys are the worst drivers, I took a keke in Gwarinpa and I prayed to God that I would see my parents again, the keke drivers are crazy, the private motorists have no regard for traffic lights or laws, I was going to write a full article about it, but figured… Anyway, Uber is the way there. The fares are very reasonable too. Anyhoo, I’m back to my jaga jaga Lagos, and I feel very much at home. All my friends who moved to Abuja are fatter from plenty peace of mind. But I’ll stay in my Lagos and hustle. For now. Lol

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      True babes! @fatter, i added my most weight in abuja. [email protected] the keke rider 🙂

    • Nkechi

      August 25, 2016 at 1:31 am

      I will pick Abuja over Lagos any day. Don’t want high blood pressure. Why should I leave my house at 3pm to catch a 10pm flight. Too ridiculous to bear.

    • Busola I

      August 26, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      It’s crazy right?! Or leave home at 5am to get to work by 8!

  2. Darius

    August 24, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I went to Lagos for the first time early this year and I didn’t find it funny. The first thing I noticed was that everybody seemed to be in a hurry. Life is fast-paced in Lagos. When humans and spirits are asleep in other parts of the country, Lagos is bustling with activities. Transport fare is ridiculously high though, and traffic is not funny at all. I don’t see myself going there again. Abuja is a pretty nice place to be.

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

      Hmmmn, I wonder where they are all running to?! Me I take my time even when taking a bus so I don’t get squashed.

    • Darius

      August 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm


  3. Daphne_647

    August 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Hello, I absolutely love this article. I grew up in lagos suburbs and loved the hustle and bustle and the easy camaraderie among neighbours . Did my I.T in abuja, which was cool except I had no friends who lived close by and found neighbours standoffish. Currently doing my internship in Lagos and i HATE it! In traffic i finally understand HUSTLE AND BUSTLE. The one thing my boss said is that to really enjoy your stay in lagos , your workplace and home should not be more than 30 minutes apart. While in Abuja all you need is money!

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks babes! You summarized it perfectly. In Lagos, it takes me almost two hours to get to work (mainland /island ish), in Abuja it’s 8-10minutes

  4. Abominable snow girl

    August 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Grew up in Abj n think it’s a huge bore?Lagos is my nirvana, my New York, my dream home. One day God willing, I will settle in Lag. E go be.

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Seriously! You wanto leave the serenity for the craze?! Hmmmm, different strokes. . .

    • Marlvina

      August 24, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      The one thing I detest about Lagos is; as a worker, You get to wake up as early as 4am (in fact, 4am might be too late sef) to beat the morning traffic and be at work by 8am. That’s just sick!!

  5. Adio_Braimoh

    August 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Abuja, rest of mind. Lagos, state of mind. Which ever suits you, embrace it with full arm.

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      Haha! Well said!

  6. Stanleychijioke

    August 24, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    For me….. Lagos anyday and anytime(Eko eni baje)

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Eko oni baje

  7. Asa

    August 24, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    I have lived in both cities and I won’t trade Abuja for silver or gold! In fact when I see good jobs in Lagos, nwanne m I look away asap! Abuja for life. Transport fare is cheap, I’ll only charter my taxi and be going at 500# max!

    Dear Busola, nice one. we went to the same Church in Maitama and at your invitation I also went to a church in Wuye. Now you know me, oya make I ask, you don relocate? No be leave you go?

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Yaaay! My ore! I follow you love Abuja oh. The leave has extended to somerin else. Will caĺl to gist you 🙂 thanks for reading

  8. Baby gurl

    August 24, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Yay Abuja! Grew up in Lagos. Moved to Abuja about 8 years ago. The diff is clear. Less headache in Abj. Although Banex junction in the afternoon makes you wonder if you’re in Lagos or Onitsha. Been in London the past few years which is like the Lagos of England. I visit Lagos when I miss my friends. About settling down, I’m really not sure where I want to end up as IJGB. Still deciding. If there could be a Part 2 of this article on the perks and lows of settling down as a young adult in either cities. I’m also pretty sure that both cities require different kinds of personalities lol. Thanks Busola fun article.

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks baby gurl. You’re right about that banex junction. It’s sanest late at night and early in the morning. The traffic lights are not helping matters either.
      We’ll see ’bout that part2 🙂 Welcome back!

  9. Netizen

    August 24, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Ignore both and go to Ibadan lol.

    • Busola I

      August 24, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Ki ni şo… Ibadan is another article all together. Spent about 7years there so I’ve a lot to say

    • Adesola Laniyan

      August 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      interesting write… born bred and grew up in lagos. visited abuja a few times, i love the ambience and serenity, hubby started preaching ibadan recently..but Lagos is still the place anytime.

    • Busola I

      August 26, 2016 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks for reading! Sure you’ll get to enjoy ibadan too in time. It takes getting used to 🙂

  10. ATL's finest

    August 24, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Lmao I love this write up but didn’t grow up in any of these States. However, I have visited both places & I won’t trade ABJ’s calmness for nothing in Nigeria. Me ke?? Live in Lag hmm not in this life time. That’s not gonna happen. The craziness is on ☁ 9 & I just can’t deal. Abj is ok to me but I still won’t live there either ?.. But all the same, they both have their ups & downs.

    • Busola I

      August 27, 2016 at 12:04 am

      Lol! You’ve discredited Naija’s best oh. But i guess Atl outranks both in many areas except the authentic naija spirit. Thanks for the compliment.

  11. Kels

    August 24, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I’m an abj born and brought up. Visited Lagos a couple of times, never liked it. Moved to New York City, barely survived it for 6 months. Moved to Atl, found peace, feels like home. Lagos is a no and New York is a never for me. I wouldn’t trade calm and peace for anything.

    • Busola I

      August 27, 2016 at 12:05 am

      I like! Very well rounded

  12. Great Lady

    August 24, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    I was born in Zaria but bread and buttered in Abuja, did all my education there. Moved to Lagos and survived for only a year, before I came back to Abj.
    Now I’m ready to finally leave Abj, I want to live outside my comfort zone.
    I’d love to finally relocate to Lagos, so I’m looking out for a job there. May God pick my call..

    • Busola I

      August 27, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Amin! If that is your desire. Its always good to try something new

  13. Remi tulker

    August 24, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Abegi!!!!!I was born in ph (everybody knws everybody or you know someone that knows you) remember Sosoliso R.i.p people?,love the city before the militants and avengers took over,moved to abuja (capital city of boredom!!!!????)they lack shows,events everybody like doing O.Y.O,malo boys are can be in an estate for 5years still not knw your neighbours name,terrible???.>>>>>>>schooled in lagos (Entertainment paradise) Love the energy hate the traffic, everybody is thinking on what to do and how to do it,u can’t be dulling on snapchat☺, plus I can get all my fashion items in one place from shoes,shirts,ties and ankara all at a pocket friendly price,Not everyday jumia,konga and payport yaba and obalende to the rescue .So inconclusion Abuja stinks of nepotism more than our friendly road side Nama,Lagos crowd is suffocating while Port-harcourt citizens are suffering from kidnappers because they have been kidnapped for anything and everything. Cheers to buhari who is for everybody and for nobody at the same time,happy change people of Nigeria.

    • Darius

      August 24, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      @Remi, you have succeeded in saying nothing. Clap for yourself. You had to drag politics in.

    • Mama

      August 25, 2016 at 4:50 am

      Very silly talk to a lively discourse. You sure are the life of the party ain’t you?!

  14. DAME

    August 25, 2016 at 10:02 am

    I was born in lagos, schooled in Osun and then Benin, moved to Abuja in 2011 and i have not looked back oo….please Abuja may be too calm and boring but i have my PEACE
    when i visit lagos for Christmas or any function…i cannt wait…i dread going out, i dread d hustle and bustle, everyone is hurrying somewhere, constant traffic, fume, smoke

    Dear hubby if we are staying back in Nigeria, its ABUJA oo

  15. meee

    August 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    i love Lagos. Abuja is too boring+fake ass life.

    • Busola I

      August 26, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Seriously?! More fake than Lagos? With the island /mainland division?

  16. Tee

    August 25, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I have lived in three states.Born in Lagos,uni in Ibadan and served in Osun.but I still love Lagos. There is just so much to do, there is this longing you have when you are out of Lagos and you want to quickly go back to see it. Lagos is fun, yes the traffic is annnnnoying but once you settle you will cope and adjust and lastly you can never be bored in Lagos. I think peace is relative.

    • Busola I

      August 27, 2016 at 12:07 am

      Okay. I guess once you get into the Lagos state of mind everywhere else is non-fun. I haven’t reached that level sha 🙂

  17. Samson Komolafe

    August 26, 2016 at 6:52 am

    Nice article Busola. I support the idea of a part 2 though. Lagos has always been fun to visit for me. Its a really crazy city and I love that. From the dense smell in the air to the needless insults in the danfo buses (I always chuckle when I enter one). There’s no dulling there! I love the fact that one can get variety and stuff is a lot cheaper there, but I’d rather work in Abuja and shop in Lag. Transport is unpedictable and higher in Lag, one would work extra hard to raise sane kids in Lagos. But boy!, Lagos represents toughness, the entrepreneurial heartbeat of Naija, the social hub and all that. I’d rather visit than dwell.

    • Busola I

      August 27, 2016 at 12:09 am

      Thanks Samson. I agree with you on many levels. The Danfo peeps are just hilarious but with the BRT its much saner.

  18. Busola I

    August 27, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Hubby please be hearing oh

  19. Dee one

    August 28, 2016 at 3:16 am

    I was born in kaduna, lived in Lagos all through my young adult life and now presently live in Abuja. When my dad was gonna be transferred to Abuja we all fought hard to dissuade him from accepting that transfer (he had a choice) but his mind was made up and we moved to Abuja and today I am grateful for that decision. The peace of mind I have here is unbeatable and each time I have to travel to Lagos for anything I usually have a mini heart attack. I don’t ever see myself living permanently in Lagos again, at least I hope I never have to. Abuja it is any day any time.

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