Many first time visitors to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, would mistake them for beautification deliberately initiated by the city planners to portray FCT as a tourist delight. They are very conspicuous and strategically located at various places in the city centre and environs. They are Abuja road side flower sellers, perhaps, emergency horticulturists, trying to eke out a living either under the scorching sun or rain fall.
Many of them have been in the business for years, and over time managed to evolve novel strategies of circumventing and evading the long arm of the law, which forbids street trading and engaging in commercial activities in unauthorised designated places.
In spite of the seemingly lucrative nature of the business, lack of alternative source of livelihood had informed the decision of many to go into the business. Although others ventured into it due to pressure from relatives, they have not had cause to look back.
Godwin Eziama, owner of GOD Ventures, which started the business of selling flowers along the road side in FCT in 2009 falls within the bracket of the latter. He spent one year as an apprentice under the tutelage of his brother because he had no job at the time. The man gave him some flowers after his apprenticeship.
Recalling his journey into the horticultural business, Eziama, an indigene of Enugu State plying his trade at Ralph Shodeinde Street in the Central Business District explained: “The first flower that I sold is satellite three. Now I stock flowers like Royal Palms, Golden Palms, Whisk Palms, etc.
“Business has been very encouraging but our biggest challenge has been the constant harassments from the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) officials for unauthorised sales of wares at prohibited places. Top dealers among us would rally round to pacify the officials before they are allowed to continue with their businesses,” he lamented.
Corroborating Godwin, Ike Oluwa Ventures who specialises in horticulture, land scape, interior and exterior decoration and artificial flowers, told Daily Sun that one of their greatest headaches is constant harassment by the officials, adding that apart from their disturbances, the business is lucrative enough to sustain their lives in Abuja.
However, Abuja roadside flower sellers are not pushovers. Apart from selling flowers for a living, one of them, Umah Udoh, has ventured into publishing to scale up his deep passion for the trade. At every given opportunity, he relishes his book titled ‘Bone Meal’, giving insight to the secret for successful tree crop and animal protections.