Okwe Obi, Samuel Bello and Charity Nwakaudu
Unlike 2019 when the general elections robbed Abuja residents the chance to enjoy the Valentine’s Day, this year’s edition was different, as the city was literally painted red by lovebirds. Teenagers had ample opportunity to frolic at different fun spots.
Valentine’s Day, also called the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated on February 14, annually. It originated as a Western Christian feast day honouring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and is recognised as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.
The streets, offices, shopping malls and churches wore a touch of red signifying love. It was also the day young men summoned courage to pop the big question to their fiancée. In addition, those who have been married for years renewed their vows. While people who have been single used the occasion to look for partners.
A visit to different boutiques and shops in the Abuja indicated that clothes with a touch of red sold more. Shop owners told Daily Sun that they ran out of stock, indicating that the patronage was overwhelming. Ene Asoyi, a clothes dealer in Jabi, said: “The sales of red clothes or with a touch of red suddenly pushed up since Monday.
“Initially, I was not aware of what was happening. It was when I asked one of the customers that he told me that Friday is Valentine’s Day and that is why they are buying these clothes for themselves and loved ones for outing. The demand continued to Friday, so we had to restock to be able to meet up with them.”
Another dealer in Maitama, Chidi Nwagor, said: “Most people in town featured the colour on various parts of their outfits. Their hair do, shirts, bags, shoes, trousers and skirts outnumbered all other colours as people came out
Ani Joseph from Wuse Market: “It was really booming. I did not see it coming, I would have ordered for more because all I had finished and they were still looking for more. The prices were not even a problem to them because all they wanted was just to get a red dress and t-shirt for themselves and loved ones. The customers were mostly men, I don’t know where the women went to or they were just at the receiving end.”
Many recreation centres like the Millennium Park, Unity Fountain, Jabi Lake Shorite, eateries, witnessed large turn out of fun seekers. At the Millennium Park, aside those who went there to enjoy themselves, business minded fellows rented sleeping mats for N50 to N100 for as long as the person wanted. Suya and drinks were very expensive. Those who have been frequenting the place, had to bring food and drinks from home.
One of the officials maintaining the park said young people indulged in sexual escapades. According to him, used condoms were littered all over. While thieves went there to pilfer phones and wallet, a trend that is very common:
“We see a lot of things in this place. People have turned the event into something else. We need to change our perception about the event by showing genuine love and care to people.”
John Darlington, who did not celebrate the event attributed it to lack of money. He said instead of going out, he spent it with his girlfriend at home.
Hannah James, said: “On the 14th, my boyfriend hired a singing telegram added with breakfast and cakes. As they were there singing, my boyfriend entered and I was so happy. Next thing I did not see coming was my boyfriend going on his knees and asked me to be his wife. Truth be told, I wouldn’t say I didn’t expect it because I thought about it but wasn’t over dreaming.”
Joyce Adeyemi said: “I left a relationship two months ago. I celebrated my Valentine’s Day with my old time male friend who has a crush on me. We bought drinks and were having funny and random talks at the City Park, Wuse 2.”
Uju Scott, 24, said: “I did not go out on Valentine’s Day because my boyfriend who could have taken me out disappointed me and he didn’t even get me any gift. I only received good wishes on social media and I had already gotten him a gift.
“Let me just hope he has me in mind because I can’t believe myself to be the desperate one. Anyway, if I want to be sincere, everyday is Valentine’s Day for us because he is a very sweet person. I’m the one carrying the special day on my head.”
Ese Alo, said: “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is not a day to be celebrated. To me, everyday is February 14, forget about what people do on that day, it is just celebrated in memory of Saint Valentine. For those who like to celebrate the day, I think they are over expecting and feel lonely because the whole idea of valentine has been misinterpreted. I just stayed at home with my family and lived it like every normal day.”
Alex Anietum, 32, said: “I don’t normally celebrate Valentine’s Day because I tend to forget about it. I have a problem with focusing on work. I am an event planner and I meet people everyday. In short, my work keeps me busy and thinking.
“Before the Valentine’s Day, people, especially close friends, happened to be talking about the essence of it and it began to make sense to me. So I had to hangout with my friends with the intention to get a girl that I can take special before it’s too late.
“My friends are in a relationship except me. I’m starting to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just take a bold step and try not to mess things up this time.”