A bus that goes direct to Ile-Ife from Ojodu-Berger in Lagos would cost about a thousand three hundred naira. The travel route cuts across four states. First is Lagos that you are departing. Then you enter and exit Ogun state, waltz into Oyo from where you finally enter Osun where you will journey for a short while before getting to Ile-Ife.
The journey could last about two hours if there is no traffic obstruction and the route the car will take you through is the Lagos Ibadan express way until you get to Iwo Road, Ibadan where you make a detour into the Ibadan-Ife road.
On that same road is the Obafemi Awolowo University. It is the single most conspicuous stand-out structure on the road where thousands of undergraduates and post-graduates come to acquire knowledge. The motto of the university is ‘for learning and culture’ which is quite intriguing and true considering the well-organized administration of the university and the high standards put in place and sustained since its founding in 1962. More on this campus later
My advice for folks who want to visit Ife and need a place to stay for the duration is that they should alight at the Mayfair section of Ile-Ife where they will see quality and affordable hotels that they can use. Intra-city bus drops cost about N40 per drop and the lodging facilities include Mayfair, Xela and Hilton hotels.
Ile-Ife is a relatively quiet city and here the traffic flows much unlike the clustered roads and houses of Lagos. In Ife, things are free and flowing, the population is not that dense and you can still see people living in what would be called ‘ancient houses.’ On the brighter side, it is a settlement where you are not likely to experience the surge in blood pressure that you find in the hustle and bustle of Lagos. So if you are looking for a relatively quiet city to take off the pressure or somewhere to ultimately enjoy your retirement, why not try Ife? You won’t be disappointed at all.
Also the food items here are relatively affordable considering the fact that most of their goods are transported from hinterland settlements like Ile-Ife to urban metropolis like Lagos and sold at higher prices. A bunch of bananas that you will buy in Lagos for N100 you will get in Ife for just about N50.
For traditional bean-cake, ‘akara,’ lovers and connoisseurs of the local ‘moi-moi,’ the Lagos variety is tasteless and impure when compared to the superior Ife made option. This is also not forgetting the numerous farmlands that dot the ancient city making vegetable so affordable you would consider coming here from Lagos to buy freshly cut vegetables!
Another thing about Ife is there shops don’t open quiet early. The place is also friendly for visitors as the huge statue of the Ife bronze head at the road welcoming you to the ancient city. The people are more friendly to visitors than in Lagos were you are really on your own. Here they go the extra distance in trying to make you feel welcome.
Local buses are cheap considering the distances covered. They cost about N40 per bus stop almost the same as their okada riders. Also interestingly, most of their drivers don’t have bus conductors as you see in almost every bus in Lagos and I actually got down without paying the fare on one occasion. No harm intended, I truly forgot!
Also in Ife is the Oduduwa University which many of you would have never heard about. Also brace yourself for the occasional poor network services in parts of Ife as telecommunication providers have not really made their strong presence felt here. This is annoying considering that Ife is a popular and most notable town. This is an open challenge to the telecommunications service providers to do something quickly about this situation.
The inner city roads in Ife will require upgrading. Though the town is rarely flooded, the roads need to be graded as there are bumps here and here and in no time you could have pot-holes the size of really big pots which will cost significantly much more than it will at this present stage.
Talking about money, there is a lot of debate in Ife today about it, with calls on the governor of Osun state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to look for urgent solutions to the crisis of unpaid workers’ salaries and to cut-down on his expensive government and welfare packages while providing basic amenities like good roads which the people insist is the right of every citizen in the state. I cannot agree any less.
Small impacts like this make a leader a folk hero and not expensive welfare packages which have now backfired and exposed him to insults and loss of face which he didn’t anticipate will come. The difference here is that both are costly but in the long run one will also give you a more content citizenry.
Back to Ife, I won’t complete my travelogue without talking some more about the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The university motto is ‘for learning and culture’ and it looks everything like the name. From the gate, which actually looks like a toll gate, the roads are well graded and neatly divided with beautiful horticultural specimens dominating the landscape.
You need a bus to take you into the campus as for close to twenty minutes all you will be driving on is on the beautiful long road without seeing any structure till you get to campus bus-stop which gives you an idea of exactly how large the university really is. I’ve been to the Federal University of Agriculture (FUNAAB) before and I was impressed, but the layout, breadth and spread of Obafemi Awolowo University wowed me to speechlessness. The mercurial Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the other founding fathers of the institution surely deserve the recognition they already have.
One thing you will also immediately notice is that all the roads are good and look like they have just been graded not long ago. Zebra crossings are predominant on major roads which gives you an ‘overseas’ feeling. You also will not miss the many sculptural installations that in a most orderly manner ‘litter’ the campus. The university is really a hive ‘for learning and culture’.
The university has its own sport complex, a stadium which can host about fifteen thousand people; the university is really a hive for learning of all sorts. I never got to the end of the university as the more I walked round, the more the campus seemed to be getter bigger and bigger and bigger.
Enjoy your stay in Ife, the ancestral home of the Yorubas. And please, while you are there be sure to visit the Ife museum where crafts of bronze works dating back to the ancient times are lodged. Also visit the Ooni’s palace, “ILE Oduduwa,” the home of Oduduwa and the Ooni of Ife, considering the fact they are near each other. Also visit the Agbonniregun Temple in Oke-Itase Street, see the famous Oranmiyan Staff you read only in books and folklore at the Mopa Area, Aarubidi, and the Zoological Garden and the Natural History Museum at the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus. There are also the Oluorogbo Temple and the Igbo-Olokun Shrine on Ilode Street, the Oduduwa Shrine and Grove at Ido Area, Oduduwa Street, the Baba Sigidi bust at Baba Sigidi Compound, Iremo and Igi-Nla (the Mysterious Tree) at Oke-Oora, Mokuro, Ile-Ife.
Also endeavor to see the Moremi shrine, the Oduduwa statue near the Oni’s palace and the Ogun Laadin shrine where Oduduwa is mythically believed to have descended from heaven with a chain in his hands. And finally, there is Ila Nla where a sitting Ooni addresses his subjects.
Your tour is just about to begin; don’t miss out on the opportunity.