The Maiduguri of old prior to the advent of the Boko Haram insurgency was known for peace and tranquillity that enabled visitors travelling in from other states to come in at any hour of the day.
In deed, the capital city was lovelier and more beautiful at night with streetlights shining everywhere, illuminating the trees which were strategically planted all over the place giving the environment a serene and picturesque appeal.
This situation then, afforded residents opportunities to move around and go to places of interests including relaxation centres after the day’s work stress.
It also enhanced business transactions as the various markets in the state witnessed a beehive of activities even after official closure of shops with those located outside making brisk businesses until the dead of the night when they eventually retired home.
The relaxation centres like nightclubs and other joints were not left out as night crawlers had a field day enjoying themselves with friends at sit outs.
But from the moment the Boko Haram terrorists embarked on their crusade of bloodshed on the once known “Home of Peace”, things fell apart and all birds returned home to roost, night life in Maiduguri turned to nightmare, especially for fun seekers and businesses.
As a matter of fact, the first Boko Haram terrorists’ attack on relaxation centre was at Maiduguri Wulari Police “Mammy Market” where a bomb hidden in a food flask in a wheelbarrow in the market exploded and killed many, leaving several others with various degrees of injuries.
Similarly, within the same period, suspected Boko Haram gunmen invaded another beer joint at Dala area of Maiduguri, and after the attack, many were killed while several others sustained various degrees of injuries.
333 Army Artillery “Mammy Market “ along Air Force Base Maiduguri, got its own share when the terrorists attacked both the market and the Air Force Base, burning down shanties converted to rooms and beer parlours in the “Mammy Market”.
Similarly, most of the markets in Maiduguri at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency faced attacks either from the Boko Haram gunmen and suicide bombers with scores of deaths and injuries recorded from the various attacks.
The heats from these attacks forced the military and Borno State government to impose curfew in the state which then crippled night activities.
The earlier curfew started by 2pm and the early closure of roads made business owners to end their businesses before 1pm to avoid violation of the time to face the wrath of soldiers already angered by the crisis.
Some banks as of then closed by 12pm while others closed by 1pm before the further peace that took the curfew to 2pm.
With improved security and clamour from citizens for extension of the time of curfew , authorities extended the curfew to 4pm from where it was taken to 6pm as situation further improved .
Hope of night life in Maiduguri saw the light of the day with the extension of the curfew to 9pm and as citizens began to make movements at night and various business started to thrive at night, government further extended the time to 10:30pm .
The further extension of the curfew time resurrected night businesses thus encouraging people to do shopping that time could not permit them to carry out in the day time.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited some of the markets and shopping plazas within the capital city, transactions moved on smoothly with customers and traders exchanging goods and monies.
Expressing joy over the return of night life and revival of night businesses in Maiduguri, Mohammed Ali , a businessman at Gidan Madara area which has the largest concentration of shopping malls in the city, said at the peak of the Boko Haram insurgency, their businesses suffered much setback because of the restriction of movement through the curfew.
He expressed gratitude to God for the relative peace that had returned to the state which as well enabled them to carry out their businesses even at night.
He said, “If you can remember, two years ago, we were not having this kind of peace. But now, we have time even up to 10:30pm for our businesses. Though our customers are complaining about the short time for our business at night, this is because some of them due to their schedule in the daytime prefer making their shopping at night after taking rest from work.
“Some workers after closing from work usually relax before coming out at night to shop for their needs. Before, even by 5pm, most of us did run back home once there was an attack from the terrorists around our business area. Once there was an attack, no matter the time of the day, we would all lock up our shops and run back home.
“Since peace has returned to the capital city, we are appealing to the government to give us more time. Having more time for business will equally add to the growth of economy of the state. Sometimes, we make more sales at night than in the day time.”
In the same vein, Babagana Tijani, a small scale trader who sells tomatoes and pepper at metro plaza Maiduguri Monday market, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that then once, it was getting to night, soldiers would chase out from their businesses because of the security situation then.
He noted that many people who could not go to the market in the day time enjoyed going to the market at night to make purchases.
He also called for extension of the curfew time from 10:30pm to 12pm since the city was now experiencing relative peace.
For Gambo Mohammed, all is to do is thank God for President Muhammadu Buhari and Borno state governor, Babagana Umara Zulum for the peace that have been achieved that is enabling night businesses which eluded them, especially small scale traders who make up their businesses at night.
Mohammed, a petty trader at the metro plaza area of the Monday market, said that in the past night life and business could amount to suicide mission noting that the Boko Haram terrorists attacks at will around markets, thus putting on people on trading at night.
“But from the time of this government, we have seen peace. While we pray to God to grant us further peace, we appeal to Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum to further extend the curfew hours.
“We also appeal to Governor Babagana Umara Zulum to extend the empowerment programme for petty traders embarked on by his administration where traders were given N30,000 to boost their businesses also to the traders at Metro plaza,” he said.
According to Adamu Lawan, sales manager of M.M Gana petrol station Baga road in Maiduguri, he has been in the filling station from when curfew was imposed by 2pm , from where it was shifted to 4pm, before scaling up 6pm, from where it further shifted to 7pm and then to 9pm from where it presently returned to 10:30pm.”
Lawan said:” Then we don’t make business as we want. But today peace has returned and the curfew extended to 10:30. The renewal of the curfew time has progressed our business. Then when the curfew was before night , we don’t make much sales.
“For instance, we don’t sell more than 1000 or 500 litres of fuel, But today, with the relative peace and extension if the curfew time, we sell between 3000 to 2000 litres of fuel. So we are very grateful to God. Kudos must be given to president Muhammadu Buhari, the various governments in Borno state for the relative peace experienced now in the state. If government can extend the curfew time to 12pm , it will do well to our business,” he added.
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