By Fred Ezeh
Abuja residents had some good words for President Muhammadu Buhari during the celebration of Christmas and New Year. They were unanimous that the President deserved a pat on the back. form the uninterrupted fun at parks, gardens and relaxation centres in and around the city.
“I think we should thank this administration for providing a good atmosphere for us to take our children and family members to parks and entertainment centres like the one where we are now. For years, since this Boko Haram killings started, my family has not gone to parks. But see hundreds of families here. It is something that we should thank this government for,” Mrs. Nkechi Nwoha said .
She added: “We know that there is so much suffering due to the economic hardship our country is experiencing, we are expecting government to do something about it. But I have to tell you that I am impressed with the level of security around Abuja.”
For mother of six, Mrs. Theresa Terfa, who was also full of praise for the Buhari government, “You can see that all my children have been playing with other children without that usual air of apprehension. We were at this Wonderland at Christmas, we returned on New Year day. Everybody is free playing. We have visited some gardens and people are just enjoying themselves.”
However, while Abuja residents are giving thumbs up to the President on security, parks and garden owners are lamenting low patronage during the Yuletide. Such complaints from the proprietors precede the Christmas and New Year celebrations as the harsh economic situation in the outgone year forced many residence to prune down their lifestyle and expenses.
The economic crunch has affected every sector but operators of entertainment centres and leisure joints seem to be worst hit. They include night clubs, bars, gardens and other fun places, as well as patronage of commercial sex workers.
Though they still enjoy patronage, there has been a significant drop in numbers because customers, apparently not having enough money for leisure now, prefer to only attend to needs instead of want.
Abuja, being one of the major cities in Nigeria, always comes alive every night. But Friday and Saturday nights come with a difference because these are nights that workers that might have worked hard all week groove and share drinks with friends and colleagues.
Daily Sun learnt that, apart from the lack of money in the hands of the many people, increase in crime especially car theft, as a result of high youth unemployment, has also discouraged of fun-seekers from visiting fun centres, especially night clubs.
Commercial sex workers that used to take advantage of the active night life in Abuja to make a fortune are also on the losing side because patronage has dropped significantly.
For instance, life is ignited in Gimbiya Street in Area 11, Garki, Aminu Kano and Adekunbo Ademola Crescents and the likes for those that cherish clubbing, even as commercial sex workers and other fun lovers converge there to do ‘business.’
Things have gone from bad to worse for these streets that were hitherto abuzz with night activitie; they now experience a trickle of human and vehicular traffic as a result of drop in financial inflow to prospective customers.
A trader along the street, Musa Ibrahim, told our correspondent that he has never experienced the kind of bad sales he has witnessed in the last one year.
He said, “People don’t even come out anymore, not to talk of patronising us. All we hear these days are complaints of no money. Even me that am doing my small business here can confirm that. In fact, my sales have dropped significantly. Most of my customers come to plead for credit, with some taking a long time to pay. This is very unusual. These are people that didn’t owe me money before.”
On the contrary, Sandra Okon, admitted that there is significant drop in quality of life due to harsh economic condition in Nigeria. But she insisted that her standard of living has not been affected despite the recession that has hit the pockets of many people.
She said, “I ve heard many people complain bitterly of unexpected hardship as a result of some economic policies of government. Though I can feel it, but not that much because I have been able to maintain my standard of living despite the hike in prices of goods and services.”
Sandra admitted that the drop in finances of people has led to quieter nights in Abuja, adding that most of her friends who are not financially buoyant have pruned their standard of living to the point that many of them rarely show up for usual night outings: “Some have continue to give excuses of increase in crime in the city, even when I know that their problem revolves around finances.”