I have heard of Banana Island, Nigeria’s most exclusive estate, where secret passcodes are exchanged like in a spy thriller akin to Hardly Chase series. I was left totally speechless and awed after my first hand experience on a visit to Tunde, a friend and formerly resident at Lekki Phase 1 where he is now a neighbour to most prominent and wealthiest people in Nigeria cum Africa.
“Who are you here to see?”
An expected the question, it still felt off-guard though. I convinced the security guards at the main gate that I have been invited and after a call to the person I am supposed to see, they let me in with the magic word of the day, “BRAVO”.
I navigated my way towards the second gate and some speed bumps. After confirming the magic word to another security guard, he waved me through. A few more speed bumps and I finally get what many Nigerians crave; peace, security, tranquillity and civility.
It is an estate that overlooks the lagoon. And the list of those who own apartments, houses and land there reads like the list of the super rich in Nigeria and Africa at large.
It is such a big estate that has a residential wing and an office wing. It is considered to be at par with the Seventh Arrondissement in Paris, La Jolla in San Diego, California and Tokyo’s Shibuya or Roppongi neighborhoods around the world. It is strictly meant for those who can afford it because land or an apartment there does not come cheap.
Many multinational companies like Airtel and Etisalat have their headquarters there. Many more foreign companies have moved there. It is the place to live. It is the place to have your corporate office. It is a good and befitting address to have on your complimentary address.
Banana Island is an artificial Island built on reclaimed land in Ikoyi-Lagos. From an aerial view, the Island is actually shaped like a banana, hence its name. Sitting on 1.6 million square meters, the sumptuous Island is divided into about 535 plots ranging in size from 1,000 square meters and 3,000 square meters. It only befits those who have all the luxury to flaunt. The Island is a place of unrivalled opulence and grandeur.
It is an entirely different world from other parts of the country. It’s a gated community and its inhabitants enjoy such luxuries as underground electrical systems and water supply networks, extremely tight security, good road layout, a central sewage system and treatment plant, street lighting and satellite telecommunications networks and the well-cherished company of fellow wealthy folks.
The estate is also removed from the outside world; a gated community with only one major entrance. Resting at the Northeastern corner of Ikoyi, it is as if the estate and its residents don’t want to be found. And if they could, they would detach themselves from Lagos Island and settle somewhere in the serenity of the Lagos Lagoon.
A functioning system in Nigeria…
Banana Island was built to function in a country that does not function. Residents enjoy luxuries such as near-constant electricity, water, and drainage.
The constant electricity in the estate is a big deal; after all, Nigeria has the second worst power supply in the world, and the rest of the country is almost always in darkness. At the very least there’s 20 hours’ worth of electricity in Banana Island, thanks to an independent power plant, which directly supplies the estate.
Banana Island is proof that things can work properly in Nigeria. All it takes is money, planning and a vision
The Island is a choice location in South West, Ikoyi and also the most expensive place in Nigeria and one of the most expensive in Africa to own a house.
Property on Banana Island is dollar-denominated. The average cost of buying a three bedroom apartment is 248 million naira; a four-bedroom counterpart can go for as much as N3.5bn, depending on the facilities it offers. However, if you’re just looking to hang around the Island for some time, and not to buy property, you can rent the same apartment for about $150,000 per annum. But there’s a clause: you must pay for an initial minimum term of 2 years – in advance. And there are no refunds. Ever! Also, the tenant is also mandated to pay a ‘service charge’ of $17,000 per annum.
A typical plot of land on the Island usually goes for between $4 million and $6 million, and the cheapest building on the Island costs upward of $8 million. An investigation shows that Banana Island is, indeed, for the big players who have more than enough money to afford the luxury of life it offers. Both the luxury flats and even lands being offered for sale by developers attract staggering prices.
Taking it from streets to streets, a 3-bedroom on Ondo Street is 10million for rent, 4 bedroom on Close E off-Sokoto road is about 300 Million on sale, Onikoyi in Banana Island is sold out already, as ridiculous as it is, partly furnished 2 bedrooms go for 4 million for rent. .
The original Banana Island construction project entitled Lagoon City was the brainchild of the Late Chief Adebayo Adeleke, a University of London trained Civil Engineer (MICE), and CEO of City Property Development Ltd. Davido’s grand dad but was eventually constructed by the Lebanese-Nigerian Chagoury group in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. Banana Island sits on approximately 1,630,000 square metres of land, which spills into the Lagos Lagoon, and has become a Nigerian version of Beverly Hills and Burj Khalifa.
Banana Island which is a man made Island is known for its wealthy, multi-cultural community and has some of the most expensive real estates in Nigeria. Banana Island has one of the highest densities of millionaires within its boundaries.
The Island is a planned, mixed development with dedicated areas for residential, commercial and recreational activities. On the residential side of the Island, planning permission is not granted for dwellings over 3 storeys high. The developers also developed a main piazza, a club-house, a primary and secondary school, a fire and police station and a medical clinic.
Banana Island hosts several high end residential developments such as Ocean Parade Towers, a series of 14 luxury tower blocks strategically situated at one end of the island to take advantage of 180 degree panoramic views overlooking the lagoon. Similar to many of the developments on the Island, it has dedicated leisure facilities such as a private health club – with tennis courts, gulf course, squash courts and a swimming pool surrounded by extensive gardens. At launch flats in Ocean Parade sold for over US$400,000. Ocean Parade Towers on Banana Island is a major real estate development for clients undertaken by the Chagoury Group of companies.
So, who are the people who occupy this Island? Who are the billionaires who have all that money can buy living in this expensive neighbourhood? Who are these super-rich who do not even live in rented apartments but own houses there? The list includes multinational corporations, well-paid expatriate employees, government officials and stupendiously rich celebrities who call the shot in the society. We need not to emphasize how rich you must be to own a house or even rent a flat in Banana Island because even a common fly understands the kind of breeze that moves around in this choice Island of aquatic splendour. Rich Nigerians and International Corporate organisations who have proven their affluence include – Etisalat Nigeria who have their corporate office there, Also their Chairman, Keem Bello Osagie stays in a choice mansion on the island, Airtel Nigeria has its head office inside the Estate followed by Ford Foundation Nigeria and Olaniwun Ajayi & Co, a soliciting firm – all are also based on Banana Island.
Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa owns a sprawling mansion on this island. One of Nigeria’s multi-billionaires, Globacom and Conoil Chairman, Mike Adenuga, the second richest man in Nigeria also lives in this estate and it is not a surprise that he is the biggest landowner in Nigeria’s most expensive area, Banana Island. His billion Naira estate consists of 8 duplexes and an additional one for his personal residence with home office, two watchtowers, a mosque, a church and a multipurpose hall that sits 200 people.
There’s also indoor swimming pool, car park, helipad, yacht deck and it sits on roughly 3 hectares. Next to him as neighbour is MRS Oil Boss and Aliko Dangote’s cousin, Son of Alhassan Dantata – the wealthiest man in West Africa at the time of his death in 1955, Sanyyu Dantata, a glance of his sprawling multibillion naira mansion will sweep you off your feet, his massive estate was constructed by Julius Berger and Cappa & D’alberto Construction Company.
Also on the list is Kola Abiola – son of late MKO Abiola – prominent businessman, publisher and politician. Wealthiest Nigerian –Lebanese, Gilbert Chagoury, who sits atop the billionaire business empire, Eko Hotel is also not left out with his sprawling mansion in a choice new street inside Banana Island. Lagos Big Boy, Folusho Adeagbo who is the Managing Director/CEO of Cumnavig Securex Limited and GABFOL Lounge at Murtala Muhammed International Airport lives inside Ocean Parade Towers, Mike Igbobe, a big time contractor for Mobil Nigeria also has a house inside Banana Island, other names include Taiwo Olemo, a foremost foreign exchange expert in the UK, Yusuf Kamal, a nigerian-Lebanese who owns Yukam Construction Company, Bayo Adeyo another Lagos big boy stays in a choice mansion few buildings away from Airtel Office, Big time engineer, Kunle Ogunbayo also stays in banana Island, he is one of the richest engineer behind Bicourtney, MMA2 project, he handles many housing projects in Lagos and many more.
Women are also not doing badly as we have the likes of Senator Florence Ita Giwa, the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to Fmr president Obasanjo who used to own an apartment inside the Ocean Parade Towers but has bought another luxury apartment in Belle Vista Towers right beside Ocean Parade which costs millions of dollars on the 9th Floor.
Also at the Ocean Parade Towers is Custom Topshot, Kofo Olugbesan, then Iyabo Obasanjo – Daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative who also stays in one of the towers, there is also a Lagos big Babe and owner of Slon Oil and Gas has a beautiful bungalow adjacent Sokoto Street.
Billionaire blogger, Dr Linda Ikeji made this list; she is arguably the youngest billionaire to have been rubbing shoulders amongst the rich in Banana Island. Her sprawling mansion is on 3 floors consisting of 6 en-suite bedrooms, a master suite with a separate walk-in, closet/dressing room and a massive bathroom suite, 2 living rooms, media room, cinema room, gym room, laundry room, a fully fitted kitchen, with a large pantry. Two room boys-quarters, a gatehouse, swimming pool, waterfall wall, changing room, cabana, and amazing water-view.
Tundun Abiola is also on this list, she is the daughter of late Chief M.K.O Abiola. She lived in the United States for many years before finally relocating to Nigeria. Tundun leads a largely quiet lifestyle with the exception of rare appearances at social events. She is a lawyer by training and had cut her teeth in the legal profession by working at the famous FRA Williams chamber before going on to work with Senator Gbemi Saraki as her legislative assistant.
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