Independence Building in Lagos

A monumental building constructed in the city of Lagos. 25 story structure that towered over its neighboring buildings. It was a symbol of power, hope, national pride and British friendship. The building fell into financial ruin and has been neglected, it now stands as a gloomy reminder of past triumphs.

By the mid-20th Century, the British aristocracy was waning. The once major World power was slowly giving way to its former kingdom. This included the African nation of Nigeria which has been seeking its independence for decades. Thus, on October 1st Britain granted Nigeria its independence and its first President saw Nnamdi Azikiwe take to hopeful country into the future. As a symbol of national pride and British friendship and monumental building was constructed in the city of Lagos. The twenty-five-story structure towered over its neighboring building and for a time was the tallest building in the country. A symbol of power and hope and the ability of Lagos and Nigerians everywhere. The building was fittingly dubbed “The Independence House”.i President Azikiwe used the finished building for a headquarters. Many government officials including President Azikiwe had hoped the building would be the forefront of political and economic success as the new nation found its own way. However, the money-making building never came to fruition as years of neglect pushed the monument into near abandonment. In the years following President Azikiwe terms the complex took the role of housing several committee groups, all set to the betterment of the nation. However as economic woes hit Nigeria and the state of Lagos in the 1980s the building fell slowly into financial ruin. The tipping point seemed to be a fire that destroyed a section of the tenth floor with the cause still unknown.ii For twenty-five years hence the building became a gloomy reminder of past triumphs.
Because of its dismal tone several young artists have used the once promenade building grounds as a showcase for their own abstract works. In November 2019 dozens of sculptures, paintings and murals decorated the property. Bringing new life to the building for the first time in decades.iii It was a generally sublime site and brought a much-needed attention to Lagos Independence building issue. Allowing for the building’s needs to be addressed by the government and not just the citizens of Lagos.
The question arises why the government has allowed this building to lie dormant for decades? Ignoring the false promises of the nation’s founders and getting over the daunting monetary strain has proven no easy feat. Luckily, this past year several groups have attempted a modernization of the once proud and exuberant structure. The neglectful landlords who failed to maintain various levels of the building have put previous restoration attempts in jeopardy. A notable project that has gained momentum was brought forth by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Committee. Their hope is that increased attention to the building and enough financial backing could help a resurgence. A properly designed plan that would allow for commercial investments could see the tower become a fully functioning international trade headquarters. Like the former World Trade Center in America. The committees spokesperson said, “The intention of government is to concession this asset for it to become the national trade and international business center that would drive value to Nigeria”.iv Although there is much work to be done many are hopeful in the future of the building and would proud to see the structures rise to its former glory. This would be incredibly dignifying for Nigerians who have watched three generations pass by as their countries former pride just sits. Only time will tell if the Independence Tower sees reconstruction and provides a stimulating economic recovery to Lagos Island and Nigeria.