Commercial and personal activities are expected not to go round the clock. However, in some places this natural rule is defied. Places of such exist in the Federal Capital Territory; these satellite towns seem hooked on long, brazen night life write EMAMEH GABRIEL and GABRIEL ATUMEYI
Abuja, the federal capital territory of Nigeria is truly as its name implies the centre of unity, being a state at the middle of the country that receives huge influx of people from all across the states of the federation on daily basis. Despite the heavy traffic of people that throng its towns and cities during the day as they make their daily living, ranging from buying and selling to transportation business, surprisingly at night the entire city goes to sleep.
But some parts of the city have defied this natural pattern of life, remaining a hub of activities far into the night until the wee hours of the morning. Although there are some places to avoid at all cost for security reasons, they still remain big-time tourist traps to fun lovers. A stroll late at night might just turn out to be the best memory of a night crawler’s life.
These pockets of nocturnal enclaves can be noticed in some satellite towns that lay on the fringes of the federal capital territory, particularly those that serve as the main entry and exit points into Abuja such as Zuba, Mararaba, Gwagwalada, Zuba, Jikwoyi and others.
These areas are constantly abuzz with activities and excitement. Whether you want to travel at night, dance, see live music, eat delicious food or hang out, there is always plenty to do at all hours of the night.
Leadership Weekend went round Abuja to investigate this phenomenon. A trip round Zuba at night will reveal a busy nightlife with transporters, sellers, traders, hawkers and all sort of people willing to take advantage of the consistent influx of travellers coming and going out of Abuja through the Zuba motor park.
Mararaba reveals a similar pattern with the boisterous night life but more than Zuba, Mararaba busy night life seems scattered round from Angwan Lemu down to the expressway, at City Rock Hotel, which is a popular guest in, in the Mararaba axis.
While Angwan Lemu is an enclave of makeshift houses and shops with local Hausa drama houses and entertainment areas, with all sort of assorted hard drugs banging with music round the clock, City Rock guest in on the other hand usually begins at 7pm every day and runs through the night till the break of dawn, parading professional sex workers of different age brackets and men who are there to have a filled evening.
As the day runs deep into the night, crowds of men, boys, and girls can be seen steadily streaming in and out of the hotel. Inside the hotel there are rooms available for any willing participant to rent and make do with, either for some limited arranged time or throughout the nights, the ladies of the night can be seen having a field day as they shake their waist to their salivating admirers.
In Jikwoyi, one of the most populated slumps in the FCT, the case is not different. Jikwoyi Guest House which also doubles as a night club is popular all-hours joint for sex workers and shisha smokers who are constantly seen exhaling smoke that swirled the air, creating temporary cloud.
‘‘I come here to have fun, particularly at weekend and I spend the remaining of the night here because I am not marry yet. It is the best way I can compensate myself after labouring’’, Solomon TI told Weekend LEADERSHIP.
‘‘It is what we do for a living and it is best at night when people come back from work’’, said a sex worker at the guest house who identified herself as Deborah.
‘‘Sometimes I attend to as many as seven men in a night and you know what that means’’, said Debora.
At the popular Zuba Park, Weekend LEADERSHIP was with Adamu Ibrahim, a loader at the park, who disclosed in Hausa language that they are in the habit of staying awake as it is a necessary part of the job.
“Why should we sleep, visitors are always coming. If we sleep who would take this visitors into Abuja city where they are ultimately headed. In Zuba here, there are those who drive in the daytime and there are those who drive in the night time.
“You understand. That is our work here. Whatever time you come here, you will find vehicles to wherever you are going. You can see them there loading. You will definitely get car to Mararaba, Nyanya or Garki. You will see vehicles going to Kaduna, Zaria even to Maiduguri,” said Ibrahim who further explained how the run shifts from Mondays to Sundays in what he described as marathon of activities.
For Felix, a kiosk owner also at Zuba, it is all about business as the night is always alive as the day for them.
He said, “This is how the night is here. Everybody is going about their business. This is how they will be trading until it is dawn but me I do sleep. I have a time I usually call it a day. But usually that is how trading will continue till the break of dawn by the grace of God. Vehicles will be coming and going.
Also for Almustapha Umar, a vehicle loader at Zuba the garage, it is to manage the chain of influx of travellers and to eke out a living. In Hausa language, he told our reporter that night trading at Zuba is necessary to support the needs and yearnings of the waves of night travellers.
“The reason why you saw us here is because this is where we make our living. There are passengers that would arrive this park in the middle of the night and if we are not here, who would do the job? There are people who finish their trades or assignments and are making back to town at such a late hours. So any day, there are people that may arrive here hungry.
“There are some that would even come from inside Abuja, when movement has become necessary. You can see a reason. We have been here since 7pm, and we would be here till further notice. We would handover to some other people by 3am.
“We would be here until they arrive. When they come we would abandon all the task to them to carry on, and by 9.am the following day some other people would come to take over from them. That is how the shift would continue after a given time interval, until it gets round to 7pm when my own set comes back to board”, he explained.
Zakari Abdul, a shop keeper at Zuba also corroborated the narrative that at the garage and expressway of Zuba there is no time to sleep at night.
He said: “There is no fault, we are making profit. I may go to sleep and if I don’t go to sleep I will be here till morning. If there are no passengers we will have to close but there are always passengers.
“Till the break of dawn we are here. Being out here is profitable. You will get what God has ordained for you. We do sleep since we are not iron, we do sleep in the morning. You can see people there loading and that is how they will be loading till the morning.
“Even now the day has broken, but you won’t know until you check your time. If you want to go to Kano, Zaria, and Sokoto, you will get vehicle here.”
One Jubril Umar who sells fruits by the side of Zuba Motor Park disclosed to Weekend LEADERSHIP that no one thinks of sleeping, but they may sometimes wind down their activities.
“That is how selling will be on-going till the break of dawn. But me I could be here till 2 or 3 am in the morning before going. In the morning there is a fresh wave of activities and boom.
“This is how they sell here; it is until they have the Muslim morning prayer that people can choose to close their market for the night.
In Mararaba, Auwal Ibrahim, a resident of Mararaba who conversed with Weekend LEADERSHIP in the Hausa language said that it doesn’t seem like a surprise to him because that is how it seems to have always been.
He said: “Angwan Lemu is a place that does not sleep. It is only fun from morning until evening. People are always trooping into this vicinity but the population is more at night or twilight. There are about two local drama houses here. They are called Gidan drama in the Hausa language. You will witness a motley crowd of boys and girls of different ages. You will see traders sitting in their shops and kiosk selling cough syrups, tramadol and other varieties of hard drugs even in the day time.
“The police usually come to this area but not to disturb anyone. The girls of the drama houses have rooms they sleep in but if you want to have a nice time with them, you will have to carry them to your house or a hotel.
“So you will always see people here. There are several snooker joints, so you will also see some people playing snooker.
“We are really enjoying it. You know Mararaba expressway is a very busy road, so the majority of the people frequenting this area are drivers. These drivers who are staying for the night usually brought passengers from the north and they are staying for the night. Those drivers who brought passengers from the North have girlfriends. I guarantee you that at night here is sweeter. There is no sleeping,” he disclosed.
Gambo Matawalle who corroborated the last speaker, Weekend LEADERSHIP that this satellite town rarely goes to bed.
He added, “When you come to Mararaba at night, you will still see people selling fruits in trays and shops. Like cigarettes, fruits, suya and everything. Everything you need is available.
“Come here at 3am, it is still lively. You will see vehicles coming from other states into major towns in Abuja. The place is even not as good as it used to be because it is now dominated by hooligans unlike before when the crowd or visitors was more massive.
“From dusk till dawn it is a beehive of activities. As you are going, others are coming in. This is a hardnut area. There are activities all round the clock.”
Speaking to Weekend LEADERSHIP, one of the ladies of the night at City Rock Hotel, who identified herself as Favour, revealed that she had been in the area for a while.
‘‘I am not a prostitute, I only come here because I am hard pressed on money but this area is always like this at night.
“You can see people all out here and that is how it will be till 4am. It is just the way it is. This place is always like this from Monday to Sunday. There is no day that you come here at night or midnight that you won’t see activities happening here.”
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