Exploring Lagos as the centre of social clubs in Nigeria

Emeka Anyaoku

Emeka Anyaoku

There is no doubt that before and after Nigeria’s Independence, Lagos being its first capital city, has witnessed the highest concentration of social clubs mainly on the Lagos Island axis. After many decades, many of these clubs are still full of various activities as their membership continue to grow by leaps and bounds, despite their stringent rules. FUNSHO AKINWALE takes a look at some these clubs and their activities over the years

The Metropolitan Club
The Metropolitan Club, Victoria Island, Lagos is about 55 years old. One can say that it is young compared to other social clubs in Nigeria

It is one of the leading social clubs in Lagos and its membership rules are very stringent. It has established for itself an enviable reputation as a gentlemen’s club, offering its members one of the best facilities for private dining in Lagos.

In fact, if you are on Kofo Abayomi Street in Victoria Island, there is no signage indicating where Met Club is located. However, there is an “M” which looks more like an envelope, on the gate of the club. To be a member of the Met club, you must be distinguished in many areas- career and otherwise.

So, for one to be a member, your pocket must be deep. The successful construction of the club’s magnificent edifice was made possible by its members’ contributions and support. The Club had a good start with its early members being among the distinguished and celebrated in the social circles in Lagos. Some of them include its first President Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, who was the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) then.

Others include the late Hon. Justice A. Fatayi-Williams, a former Justice of the Supreme Court and others.

Yoruba Tennis Club
For conviviality, well-lubricated evenings with businessmen and socialites, Yoruba Tennis Club is the place. It is where you have everything at your beck and call.

The club, which recently marked its 90th anniversary, is a unique club governed by traditions, customs, norms and constitution.

That the Chairman is infallible or can do no wrong is not written in the constitution, but it is understood by all members from the first day they set their foot on the Club’s premises.

The Chairman, Ayodele Martins, disclosed during the celebration that the Club lays more emphasis on honesty, integrity and industry among members.

“As a Club, we maintain a non-partisan posture, but individual members are free to express themselves politically. Our elders regularly and consistently sit to discuss contemporary state and national issues of concern and proffer possible solutions, which are transmitted to state and national leaders.”

The Club started at Tokunbo Street, Lagos before moving to the old premises at Golf Links Road now occupied by the National Museum.

The new Club House is at No. 2 Yoruba Tennis Club Road, Onikan, Lagos with an additional wing comprising the Dining hall and the V. Ade Allen Hall.

Also at the Club House are the Tennis Court with flood lighting, Norman-Williams Pavilion, Greetings hall and an extension that include the Club’s Administrative wing.

Not only has the Club recorded giant developmental strides, since its establishment in 1926, it has also through its annual lecture series promoted discourse on contemporary national issues, thereby engendering peace and harmonious relationships in the polity. The wives of members are affectionately referred to as Sisters.

Lagos Polo Club
Lagos Polo Club has changed over the years, being among the premier clubs in Lagos.

Lagos Polo Club no doubt retained its position as the premiere polo club in the country, since it came to limelight among the social clubs in Lagos.

The club’s environs in Ikoyi have moved from being an essential residential area to a commercial centre with development and people increasing in the millions, thereby making the club’s infrastructure outdated and inadequate.

The Lagos Polo Club Committee has since embarked on the most ambitious redevelopment master plan and road map to be completed within 10 years. The major part of the brief is to take the Club to the end of the millennium catering for members and their families, guests, grooms, ponies and of course Lagosians. In a nutshell, turning the Lagos Polo Club into the destination point in Lagos.

The president of the Polo Club is Adetokunbo Laoye, with several notable Nigerians that include Femi Akinruntan, Francis Ogboro, Muhammed Babaginda and several notable Nigerians. The club is strategically located within the cool ambience of Ribadu Road in Ikoyi, Lagos. What distinguished the club from others is its geographical spread across the country.

There is El Amin Polo Club in Kano, Kaduna and Port Harcourt.

Lagos Boat Club
The Lagos Boat Club, which is the only boat club in Lagos, was founded over 60 years ago and has been the symbol of the city’s well-to-do.

Housed in a white colonial-era building and boasting a view of the serene lagoon, the Lagos Motor Boat Club has an unmistakable nautical theme- the wood-panelled bar with a large boat wheel as its centre-piece. What other way would you have loved to relax after a hard day other than to seat in a serene environment with good music, good food, excellent service, game for the mature mind, guaranteed security and cool fresh air from the lagoon on your skin.

Lagos Boat Club is a country within a state as people of all tribes, races, nationalities and culture make it tick regularly. Offering a world-class service with dedicated staff, the Club offers a restaurant with full service for lunch and dinner unlike other clubs.

With a restaurant & V.I.P lounge upstairs, the club offers discreetness for those who love being unnoticed. The pool bar on both the V.I.P floor and downstairs with dart boards offers people a game that helps them relieve the tension they’ve had all day. The club also offers the waterfront terrace. Patrons can listen to music that soothes the soul with live band playing jazz, Afrobeat, highlife, rock and oldies to one’s ears three times in a week. Africa’s richest man, Paddy Adenuga, the son of Otunba Mike Adenuga and few other well-meaning Nigerians are regular callers at the Ikoyi-based club.

Lagos Country Club
Lagos Country Club is one of the oldest family clubs in Nigeria. The club has over the years grown to be regarded as one of the top social, recreational and sporting clubs in Nigeria with over 2000 active members cutting across nationalities, tribes and religion.

The club which is known for its rich sporting activities may not have large concentration of class personalities like other clubs, but some prominent people still love the place for relaxation.

Located in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Ikeja, the Lagos Capital, aside sports and other activities, the hangout offers nourishing local and international cuisines and a bar for drinks. Captains of industries, politicians, top businessmen and sports lovers are regular visitors there.

Apapa Boat Club
Apapa is arguably one of the finest mini-cities in Lagos due to its numerous creeks, islands and waterfronts, the mini-city of Apapa is sort of a ‘‘Jekyll and Hyde,’’ owing to the fact that it doubles as a tourist delight and alternatively as a business haven.

It is a tourists delight because it is home to a beautiful coastal harbour and a business haven because it is home to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) where all shipping businesses are handled. Flour Mills Nigeria Plc, a major producer of Nigerian Foods, BUA Oil a major company with interests in crude and petroleum and other important chains of business are located close to it. For fun lovers visiting the Apapa Boat Club is nothing short of the word ‘‘entertainment’’ because one gets the opportunity of participating in games like water skilling, boat racing, swimming etc. Another exciting thing in Apapa is the nightlife of its people. Nightlife in Apapa speaks for itself because of the presence of the club

Eko Club
The listing of celebrity hangouts would be incomplete without mentioning Eko Club. The club, which is strictly for socialites of all hues, is located in the city of Surulere.

The 42 year-old Club has mostly Lagosians as members charting the course of Lagos State and working in tandem with any governor for peaceful co-existence of the residents. The president is Babatunde Faruk Grillo, while Alhaji Muritala Ashorobi, Alhaji Yomi Ayepola and Barrister Rilwan Dawudu are members of its Board of Trustees (BoT).

Lagos Yacht Club
Lagos Yacht club is also one of the oldest social clubs in Lagos. The club is located right across the bridge leading to Victoria Island. Magazine Point was an ideal location for a sailing club not only because of its picturesque scenery, but also for its convenient location.

Membership of the club has continued to grow. Over the years the Club has been fortunate enough to have good leaders and careful managers. Initially, the only committees were the Main Committee and the Sailing Committee. As the Club Property became more substantial, facilities provided were expanded. Yacht racing is an exhilarating experience, but like most sports you need to know what you’re doing. If you have the ‘need for speed’ and water is your element, then the Lagos Yacht Club is the place for you. Becoming a member of the club is relatively cheaper than other clubs in this category. With N250,000 and being nominated by two members of the Club, the sky is the limit as a member.

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