By Fortune Eloagu and Nguamo Aka
From a distance, a first-time visitor could mistake the numerous tiny flicks of light in the night for a solemn gathering in honour of a departed loved one. But as you draw nearer, there are movements and rancorous voices as people haggle prices which soon confirm that serious trading was in session on this spot in Garki, one of the densely populated areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The Garki night market is one of many in Abuja, the nation’s capital. In densely populated Mpape, Nyanya, Kubwa and Wuse as well as other parts of the city, night markets are springing up in hitherto improbable places as many empty places in the day are being turned into trading hubs at night.
Like in the traditional markets in the day, the smaller traders are seen hawking their items, including onions, pepper, tomatoes, fruits, soap and rat poison, while the more organised ones operate from their makeshift stalls, selling all foodstuffs and other essential items. Perhaps to help keep the worms busy while people carry out their selling and buying, operators of makeshift eateries are also found in the night markets, offering delicacies, including ‘pepper soup’ and bean cakes (Akara) and fried yam.
In virtually all the markets visited, buying and selling extended into the night and ironically, cases of stealing and other offences that are commonplace in the day markets are seldom recorded.
Checks by Abuja Metro revealed that in most cases, the items, especially the perishable ones, are cheaper. Not a few buyers confirmed that less money nets more tomatoes, pepper, vegetables and meat at the markets.
In some of the night markets, residents said they patronise them because shopping at night is more convenient, especially for those that leave their offices late.
One of them, Mr. Peter Onah said: “Whenever I drive at night, I tend to get some things I like in the market. I even eat out sometimes. Once I see something I like, I go for it and the only time I get to stroll is at night; so, I patronise the night markets well.”
Also, Rita Nweke, a resident of Garki, said, “night market is more convenient for me because I go to work every day and return late; so, whenever I come back I will go and get some things from a nearby market or any place where they sell the things I need.”
A petty trader at Garki Night Market, Abdul Umah, confirmed that business could also be good at night. “I hawk my goods at night just in case I see people that want to buy them. I also sell during the day, but I sell more at night because that is when many people come back from work”, he said.
Sandra Okolie, a resident of Wuse, said she prefers the night markets because the environment is usually cool and less rowdy. She said: “I like night markets because the weather is very calm at night and they are less rowdy. Also, there are times your children will tell you that some vegetables are needed and you quickly go to the market and get them.”
An operator of an eatery at the Wuse market, Mrs Chidimna Okoro, said: “I open my shop when it is late because I believe that is when more customers visit. People will always come to relax and eat when they are done with the day’s job. As you can see, I have customers already. They come here to eat and drink and my meals are always delicious, so they are always here. It is exciting because I see different characters every evening.”