Cocoa House: West-Africa’s First Skyscraper

Standing majestically at the height of 105 meters in the middle of the Dugbe Business District Centre of the ancient city of Ibadan, Nigeria, the magnificent 26-storey Cocoa House is the first skyscraper in tropical Africa and was the tallest building in Nigeria and West-Africa when it was built. Completed in July 1965, it was officially commissioned for use a month later in August, 1965.

The Cocoa House was primarily conceived by the Western Regional Government as a morale-booster project for the teeming farmers in the region, hence its original name “Ilé Àwọn Àgbẹ”, that is, “The House of Farmers“.

It was to serve as incentive and commonwealth of the Yoruba people who were predominantly cocoa farmers. It was also to further underscore the fact that cocoa produce was not only profitable but could also serve as a revenue generating investment.

Though, it was conceived by Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo (1908 – 1987), then Premier of the Western Region (1952 – 1959), it was his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (1910 –1966) who completed the building in 1965. It was handled by Cappa and D’Alberto construction firm as the major contractor.

As at June 2017, the Cocoa House is the 3rd tallest building in Nigeria and the 78th tallest building in Africa.

Cocoa House is at present the property of Odu’a Investment Company Limited, jointly owned by the governments of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States.

Image of Obafemi Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola
Obafemi Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola were instrumental in the building of the Cocoa House.

Tragedy struck the Cocoa House on January 9, 1985, when the building was gutted by fire. It was obviously a setback for the fast growing conglomerate. It took the Odu’a States of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo and Osun a whole seven years to rehabilitate the edifice and restore it to its present position, after some modifications, nearly the same years it took to build it.

On August 3, 1992, the rehabilitated Cocoa House was jointly commissioned by the ruling Odu’a state governors in the South-West: Chief Kolapo Ishola (Oyo), Chief Bamidele Olunilua (Ondo), Chief Olusegun Osoba (Ogun) and Alhaji Isiaka Adeleke (Osun).

As at June 2017, the Cocoa House, built with proceeds from cash crops like, cocoa, rubber, timber etc., from the then Western Region, is the 3rd tallest building in Nigeria and the 78th tallest building in Africa, a position it shares with 7 other buildings.

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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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