The worsening state of insecurity across the nation coupled with attendant excruciating economy difficulties have restrained most pleasure seeking and fun-loving people from involvement in late outdoor engagements.
The middle class has also been prevented from hanging out at odd hours at night for sake of insecurity. Besides, the preference for air travel over land transportation in most parts of Nigeria, has led to astronomical hike fares ahead of the yuletide season.
The epileptic power supply in most parts of the State has not helped matters.
Employment has been affected, especially people who would have love to do two or three workshifts at night clubs where they render other ancillary services like taxi drops that ease the nightlife activities have all disappeared. The implication is that the dwindling economy exacerbates. Social life and entertainment have been impacted.
The population of Nigerians who are growing up under excruciating hardship and daily routine of roamig the streets in the hustle to eke a living.
Some State governors have setup local aimed at complementing the law enforcement agencies evolve Community policing.
The Civilian Joint Taskforce (CJTF) and Amotekun are in Northern and Western Nigeria. These local security outfits help to complement the efforts of conventional security agents in the areas.
South South and South Eastern Governors are yet to inaugurate their own local security networks.
Edo State sits on 17.802 kilometres land mark. The state is located on a rolling coastal plain crossed by rivers. Benin City, its capital, is located at 6* 26 N and 5* 41′ E, and shares boundary with Ondo State in he West, Kogi and Delta State West and North. Northern rework of roads in Edo makes it a gateway State to other neighbouring States and Cities.
This development makes the logic of tackling the twin menace of incessant crime wave in the State a complex issue.
But, during his first tenure as Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, had launched a local security outfit codename, “Wabaizigan”. He committed the sum of N2 billion as trust fund to fight crime.
Patrol vehicles and utility logistics were provided by the government.
The security operatives were drawn from the Nigeria police, Department of State Security Services (DSS), the military, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV).
At a meeting with youth leaders, faith-based organizations and members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the aftermath of EndSARS protest, Governor Godwin Obaseki, revealed that 900 Public Works Volunteer (PUWOV) outfit in the State currently undergoing security training at the Nigeria Mobile Police base, Ogida Barracks in Egor Local Government Area of the State in addition to the recruitment of 1,100 persons that will be trained to complement the law enforcement in Edo State.
Despite the measures that have been put in place by Governor Obaseki who also donated the sum of N100 million to officers and men of the Nigerian police, Edo State Command as aftermath of the EndSARS as inventive, the security challenges in the State have remained unabated.
The situation degenerated into self-imposed curfew eroding nightlife in the State City centre and neighbouring urban areas.
Unwining and relaxation have its own clinical psychological impact on the people. It helps them to be more creative, and productive.
Speaking on the development, Mr. Dada Ayokhai, a resource person, lamented that residents of Edo State have self-imposed curfew on themselves due to the worsening insecurity in Edo State.
Whereas the State government had announced restriction of movement of persons between 12p.m and 6.a.m, but, what do you see now? Before 9.p.m everyday, social activities are grounded. People are now afraid of their neighbours. In fact, what we have now is self-imposed curfew by people on themselves.
“Once it is 6.p.m, everybody is in panicky mood. According to him, ” nightlife is one of the things that make the State rich because event Centres, night clubs, and other social amenities can improve the quality of life”, he said.
He added that insecurity which is not peculiar to Edo State alone, is hurting the economy and livelihoods.
He also blamed the situation on the plummeted Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State and dipped resource.
“At the time, event Centres and night clubs close by either 7.p.m or 8.p.m, who consumes the drinks and takeover the dance floor?
After the day’s toil, people would want to relax, unwind and rob minds on contentious societal issues to calm the nerves, these ultimately contribute to healthy living.
A human right activist, Comrade Kola Edokpayi, said, “We are really in prison in Benin, you cannot stay outside till 7 p.m but in Abuja, you stay outside till 2:30 am”.
Also speaking, the Public Relations Officer of Kada Plaza and Entertainment Centre, Benin City, Mr. Mark Nkworji, alleged that hospitality business in Edo State has nosedived due to intolerable level of insecurity, which has also impacted livelihoods.
It is appalling. In this year alone, entertainment is at its lowest ebb. Nightlife has practically disappeared. The EndSARS protest, Covid-19 pandemic, cult wars contributed to the menace to a large extent.
“Remember that you need to be alive first before entertainment. So, people are very conscious of their safety. It has affected the way they socialise.
“Speaking specifically about our own organization, we are really feeling the impact due to the reaction of the people to the security crisis.
“Patronage has drastically dropped.
It is even worse at night. Naturally, people would love to come at night after the day’s work, watch movies at 10.p.m, and relax. But when they consider the security situation, they jettison the idea.
“The high volume night Clubs have reduced to a table service in some parts of the township”, he said.
He predicted that night clubs and bar will bounce back, despite the several jobs at risk due to the ongoing uncertainty and loss of freedom, there seems to be semblance of hope in the future.
According to him, “police have gradually started to return to the Streets. We are bracing the odds, we are seeing positive response. If the presence of security are more visible continually, it will encourage people to socialise, have fun at night”.
With few days away from the Yuletide, human and business activities have gradually picked, air and road traffic is becoming heavy, investors in entertainment industry is exploring new ways to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic and keep fun-seekers safe.
Again, Mr. Nkworji, posit that most Nigerians in diaspora who would have loved to return home to Nigeria to celebrate Christmas and new year with their loved ones have developed cold feet as a result of the spate of insecurity.
Most of our people who live abroad are scared of bringing their Children to Nigeria for Christmas Celebration. It is about perception. Some of them see Nigeria as a war zone, having seen some photographs of persons who were reportedly killed during cult clashes and others on the social media network.
He explained that this fear of the unknown, has also affected the return of direct foreign investment and the exchange rate for Naira to dollar.
“The patronage is likely going to be low during the yuletide compare to the past and previous year. I see a gloomy yuletide Celebration in Benin.
“In our organization, Kada Plaza and Entertainment Centre, Benin City, we used to engage more workers during the yuletide because we anticipated more patronage. But, this time around, that is not on the table. It is not even an option because of the harsh economy. There is no point engaging people and the proceed from their endeavour is not enough to pay their salaries. It will not make sense. Employment will not experience any form of boom this time around.
“Some entertainment Centres are laying off Staff in droves, but in our own situation, we try to encourage our Staff with incentives just to keep them.
“But, there are a lot of applications for employment. Much as we would have loved to provide jobs for people, we must do it within the ambit of the resources that are available including overhead cost”, he stressed.
Narrating his experience before, British Broadcasting Corporation trained Veteran journalist, Mr. Tony Abolo, described the dimension of nightlife as wide, but pathetic.
Without the luxury of a car, fear of being kidnapped molested or attacked by armed robbers, fun-loving and fun-seekers could walk, relax at anytime, anywhere in Benin City in 1960’s and 70’s. Everyone looked up to weekend enjoyment, Abolo said, the level of inflation and population was really low.
He expressed shock over the sudden turn out of events, and charged the appropriate authorities to get Nigeria economy to work and fix the problems of insecurity.
Abolo said with his 14 pounds monthly salary, he invested a lot in education and had the opportunity to unwind and pick up bills at relaxation centres, yet still save for the rainy day.
He explained that people could find happiness because they had time off from work to relax, travel during holiday and break-off from all kinds of problems with minimal cost.
“When we were growing up, people will travel from Benin City, Edo State to Warri, Delta State and sometimes vice-visa to enjoy themselves. Others will travel from Benin to Lagos State. On top of it, air flight ticket was cheap. Then, 200 pounds could take you to London from Benin.
“But, there is even much more concern when you now look at the whole scenario; It has affected employment. After all, people could do two or three shifts if they were working in a night Club.
“You can imagine the number of workers in a night Club. The drinks that would be sold, the food that will be consumed, all that is what has now left the economy. Besides, drivers are not working anymore.
“On top of it, air flight was cheap. The sum of 200 pounds could take you to London from Benin.
“The Nigeria Airway office used to be at Forestry Road. Now you can’t even notice it was ever there. You can imagine how life was then. Then, people could go to shop, relax for the weekend, relax in London, come back and then, enjoy themselves in Nigeria.
“But, there was a bad side. Because drink was equally cheap then, people were having accidents on roads, junctions especially while retuning from night clubs drunk. The king square and the Benin museum wall were not spared of such attacks.
“Then, there was the good side and the bad side which life is all about.
“Then, there was life bands. Mr. A Club which was owned by one Mr. Momodu, was a big place. We also, had the Specus’ band night Club which was located between Idahosa street and Unity Bank Plc, off Mission road in Benin City.
“We used to go there at about 10.p.m, dance till 11: p.m to 12 midnight and head to Sharps night Club which was located at the Palm House along Sapele road in Benin City. You have to use the elevator to about the 6th-7th-8th or 9th floor of the building. We all get together dance and eat. Of course, it was fun till about 2 O’clock in the morning. As you are leaving, other fun-seekers are either coming into the club.
“The last destination then, was the Limit Entertainment Centre. They took their entertainment to the highest level. It was to the limit of pleasure and enjoyment. People will end up there until about 4a.m or 5.a.m.
“Then, we had no car. We trekked, walked the Streets, and there was nothing to fear because everybody was looking for pleasure. Nobody was interested in crime. Rather, attention was strictly for pleasure and relaxation.
“Compare that time to now, when by 8-9p.m, the town goes silence. And all you have are soldiers and policemen. That is sad.
“The level of unemployment was so literally low and the people had money in their hands. Inflation was not as high as it is now. It was fun-loving. What the French people call Juare de Vivour (Joy of life). You want to enjoy life. People look forward to the weekend and opportunity to break off on a Friday. That was the origin of the word Thank God it’s Friday.
“But, today people have little or nothing to thank God for. Everybody is working and hustling to meet up and in the end, they do not even have the time to relax with their loved ones.
“The expression is Friday comes and you say, it is time now to break loose and have fun for the weekend. By Monday, you are already exhausted, coming back to work. But, today, what do have. Friday to Sunday at work. On new year day and Christmas day, Independence day some people are still running to work”, he said.
How to reverse the situation?
“You have to get the economy to work in addition to educate the people. That is making people to understand what the philosophy of what life is all about. It does not mean that you must have the sum of three Hundred Thousand Naira in your Bank account or ten Million before you enjoy life.
“I am giving myself as an example. When I was only receiving 14 pounds as my monthly salary back in late 60’s and 70’s, I made sure that I will use One pound to buy myself Whisky because I had said that I am not going to wait that I am a wealthy man before I buy myself a bottle of Whisky. So, I will enjoy myself with Whisky. Then, I made sure that I was buying myself Time Magazine. I invested in Education and pleasure. We enjoyed ourselves.
“I remembered in those days, a big bush meat was only 50 kobo when I was a Bachelor. Then, only poor people were eating it. Rich men do not eat bush meat then. But, today, can I eat bush meat? So, things have inverted”, he said.
The consensus however is that the government should grant owners of entertainment, shopping malls and other social service providers, tax relief in order to be able to survive the harsh economic challenges.
According to Nkworji, “Tax relief is a standard practice all over the world. It help to reduce the burden of unemployment problem from the government.
Sadly, there hasn’t been any tax relief or tax holiday for these Organizations is a spin-off for crime reduction and enhance the business outlook in oder for the private sector Organizations to grow, create jobs and strengthen the productive capacity of Organizations.
“It is better to prevent crime than to fight crime. One of the ways to prevent crime is to engage the youths in legitimate ventures that will make them useful to themselves and society.
“A man who spends his energy working for Eight hours and when he gets home, he get tired and sleeps off and get prepared the following morning for his next assignment. Such a person will not be thinking of a crime.
“The government should catalogue a reputable Organisations that have provided useful employment to youths and provide tax relief for them.
“The issue of power is another problem. Many Organizations have either downsized their workforce or closed shops due to the epileptic power supply in some parts of the State based on independent evaluations.
Kada Cinema relies on power 24 hours daily. We are either on Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) or generating sets to keep our machines automated and meet customers need. That is a huge sum. This has a way of increasing the cost of goods and services. For instance, the cost of a hotel elsewhere like Ghana, the cost of a hotel accommodation in Nigeria is more expensive.
This is not because the hotel or Club owners and Proprietors chose to be exploitative, but, for the sake of expenses that they incur daily in order to remain in business. Such financial burden is usually passed on to the final consumers.
“Entertainment is also expensive here too. Therefore, the government should work out modalities towards reducing tariff on electricity and provide stable electricity.
“I commend Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for bringing the 55MW CCETC-Ossiomo Independent Power Plant (IPP) project to the State. The electricity is being test run and people have testified that it is effective.
“But, the State government should try to liberalise the power project and make the State a hub and reference point to other States in Nigeria that Independent power project is indeed effective and affordable”, he advised.
The Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie said in a statement that the lighting up of the public assets is part of the overall strategy of the state government to provide stable electricity to run government so as to assure efficiency and drive productivity.
The firm has commenced provision of 24-hour power supply to the Edo State Secretariat and the new wing of the State High Court, on Sapele Road, Benin City, the State Capital.
According to him, public assets that have been connected to Ossiomo IPP include the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the Edo State Secretariat Complex, the new wing of the State High Court while those that are to follow include the new wing of the Government House, Stella Obasanjo Hospital and other state-run hospitals, among others.
He noted that aside the public buildings, a number of private individuals have also plugged into the power plant and are enjoying 24-hour electricity that is priced below the going rate of competitors in the market.
“A key feature of having the CCETC-Ossiomo IPP in Edo State is to drive industrialization. So, we encourage businesses to come in and set up shops in the state and tap the benefit of running their factories for 24 hours, so they can boost productivity and reduce downtimes caused by erratic power supply.
“In Edo, particularly along the Sapele Road corridor, industries have the opportunity of enjoying 24-hour electricity that is affordable and a catalyst for business expansion. It is the perfect place to site any business that is power-intensive”, the statement said.
In his determination to keep Edo State safe, Governor Godwin Obaseki on Thursday December 10, 2020, assured Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the State led by Bishop Oyenude Kure of government commitment to checking criminality in the State.
“By next week, the command and control center in the State will come alive and we are activating security cameras to check criminality in the state. Be rest assured that my administration will secure Edo people.
“We will be publicizing the emergency response numbers that you will call for emergency. We have increased the numbers of security patrol teams in the Benin-Auchi Road to check criminal activities in the axis, especially at this festive period. We will watch the next few days and begin to relax the curfew as we enter the festive period”.
“We are working with EdoGIS on a security map of the State, particularly Benin Metropolitan area and will be having a section with you on how to improve our security architecture.
“We are putting on the ground linking the structure with the community policing arrangements we have.
“I want to assure you that our administration has hit the ground running and no matter how difficult the challenges are, we are up to the task of dealing with it.”
“Edo people have given us their mandate; we are not afraid and will do only that which is right before the Lord. We will reset Edo and make sure we begin to do things properly,” he stressed.
But the guests became worried over the Governor’s reluctance to lift the curfew which would have enable Christians and non-Christians alike in the State to congregate at the various worship Centres and observe December 31, 2020 crossover service into the new year.
A source that was privy to the meeting revealed that Governor Obaseki told the Clergymen that he would prefer to keep the curfew in order not to put the lives of the people at risk.
But the alleged fatal abduction of Edo State Head of Service (HoS), Mr. Anthony Okungbowa on Saturday by gunmen while returning from a social event at Oza area in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the State, has become a huge embarrassment to the Government, with the All Progressives Congress, APC, calling for Governor Godwin Obaseki resignation, few days before the hostage was set free by his captors after undisclosed ransom was paid, according to dependable sources.
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