By Fred Ezeh
The harsh economic situation has continued to take a toll on Nigerians of different social and economic status, forcing them to adjust their lifestyle. One of the worse hit segments is nightlife in the capital city.
The unfolding development is a reflection of economic realities. Arguably, a large percentage of Nigerians have adjusted their lifestyles, tastes and other things, eliminating anything that does not contribute to their finances.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has often reminded Nigerians that the economy is in dire straits because the previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his team that failed in managing the economy and the revenue thereof.
Expressing his views, a property developer, Alhaji Surajo Abdulsalam, apparently angry over the economic situation, said, “We are no longer interested in excuses of what the previous government did. This government should open its doors to welcome ideas and persons that can transform the economy, resulting in the creation of wealth and reduction of poverty in Nigeria.”
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, shortly after a visit of the National Peace Committee to Buhari in Abuja last year, advised the President not to focus all his energy on the fight against corruption but also develop policies that would pull Nigerians from the dungeon of poverty and hopelessness.
His advice generated diverse reactions from Nigerians. But the clergyman maintained his stand, stressing that the accidental nature of leadership does not suggest that Nigeria can go beyond merely saying the nation can have office holders and not leaders.
He said, “There is a classical distinction between holding office and being a leader. Not all leaders are in office, and not all in office are leaders. There are people who have no offices but they wield a lot of influence. After all, most Nigerians are more educated and experienced than the current political leaders.
“Nigeria has not placed premium on human capacity and experience as well as quality of our supposed leaders, and we are paying for it. The primary responsibility of government is to provide necessary atmosphere for ordinary Nigerians to compete with their contemporaries locally or internationally.”
However, as government tinkers with the economy in a bid to get the nation out of the woods, the recession has affected every sector but operators of entertainment centres and relaxation joints seem to be the worst hit. They include nightclubs, bars, gardens, and other fun places. This also extends to patronage of commercial sex workers.
For this category of ‘entertainers,’ although they still enjoy visits from clients, there has been a significant drop in patronage because the customers, apparently not having enough money for leisure, prefer to only attend to needs instead of wants.
Abuja, being one of the major cities in Nigeria, comes alive every night. But Friday and Saturday nights come with a difference because these are nights that people that might have worked hard all through the week choose to groove and possibly share drinks with friends and colleagues.
Daily Sun learnt that, apart from the lack of money in the hands of most people, increase in crime, especially car theft, as a result of high youth unemployment, has also contributed to the discouragement of outings to fun centres, especially nightclubs.
Commercial sex workers that used to take advantage of the active nightlife in Abuja to make a killing are also facing hard times as patronage has drastically dropped.
The hitherto bubbling spots in Gimbiya Street in Area 11, Garki, Aminu Kano and Adekunbo Ademola Crescents are now deserts. Patrons of nightclubs are thinning out in their numbers, to the detriment sex workers and other fun seekers.
Things have gone from bad to worst as these streets that were hitherto busy with nightlife now wear a mournful look.
A trader along one of the streets, 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 again, not to talk of patronising us. All we hear these days are complaints of no money. Even me that I 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 her part, Sandra Okon admitted that there is significant drop in quality of life due to the harsh economic condition in Nigeria. But she insisted that her standard of living has not reduced despite the recession that has affected the pocket of many people.
She said, “I have 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 quiet nights in Abuja, adding that most of her friends who are not financially strong have reduced their standard of living to the point that many of them rarely show up for the 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.”