Once upon a time, there used to be free money in Yenagoa. Political office holders had so much and to spare. Civil servants had their vaults full of cash and could afford to lavish street girls on Yenagoa streets with some good cash. In those days, drinking joints, night clubs, red light zones in the state capital were a beehive of activities.
Not anymore. Things have changed. All the avenues for quick cash have been blocked by the government of Seriake Dickson. The on-going reforms have added to the sorrows of those Bayelsans who used to, but no more have access to free cash.
Apparently, people now have to work hard to earn their pay. Even those who used to frolic in town because they also had money flowing into their banks from their illegal refining business, popularly called Kpo Fire, are also badly hit. And as a result, those girls who used to dress almost half naked, positioning themselves at strategic places in the night, waiting for men, are now in deep shit. It is no more business as usual for them.
Take a walk to the hospital junction axis of Port Harcourt and what you will see may shock you. That is one of the red light zones in town. There, you find girls of all classes. You will find the ugly, you will find the slim, you will find those with padded breasts, you will those with heavy pancaked faces, even those that have gone into the other phase of their life, but who are battling seriously to hide those signs of old age. They are there. Various sizes, various looks, various colours. They appear mostly at night. Their targets are the men. They are women of easy virtues. And all they want is cash.
But the Dickson's reforms are a piece of bad news for them. And they are praying hard that things should return to status quo ante. Because of the situation of things, they have even decided to slash their prices.
TNN was at some of the spots where commercial sex workers ply their trade in the town. One of the girls spoken to, said "this business is becoming more frustrating every day. If I can manage to gather some money to open my own business, I will go back to my state; afterall, I have a good handiwork. I am a hair stylist.”
A lanky sex worker with full breasts that were obviously packaged and displayed, who gave her name simply as Juliet hinted that their services were now negotiable based on what the clients could afford.
"The lowest we used to charge for a short-time service was N1,000 but now, anything goes because customers are scarce. The guys now come to price us as if we are food stuff. But what do we do? Life goes on", she consoled herself.
Juliet suspected the dearth of cash in the state as one of the reasons for bad business. She also attributed the situation to insecurity in the area, adding that, "we are living in fear because of the cult boys. They always come here to harass us, shoot guns and collect people's money and handsets.
TNN observed that generally, nightlife is almost disappearing in Yenagoa. A visit to the popular Bolex Carwash and Bar along the Isaac Boro Expressway showed that the traffic of fun seekers into the place has reduced.
Low patronage was visible at the once bubbling pub. Sophisticated musical jams resonated into the air. Many were expected, but less than a handful was sighted. Under Dickson, there is no room for financial profligacy. It is operation mind your salary. Therefore, politicians have since adjusted to the new order. Nightlife is no more a priority. Opportunity cost now applies.
The hospital junction, as it is fondly called, used to be a hot spot for nightlife admirers. For guys who cherished to spend some pleasurable moments after the close of work, the hospital junction was a place to visit. The surrounding bars boomed with dynamic musical sounds, while alcoholic drinks of choice as well as lip-smacking plates of hot suya were readily on ground for guys to unwind. It was observed that most of the major bars in the area have closed down and packed out due to losses as a result of low patronage.
However, places like Stop Over Carwash and Bar as well as the newest in town, the Express Bar all located along the Isaac Boro Expressway are still enjoying sizeable patronage. Nightlife freaks seem to have considered the Express Bar as the most comfortable place to be at the moment. The reason is not far-fetched. Security vans were seen strategically positioned at the entrance of the newly opened bar.
Before now, streetlights adorned almost every major road in Yenagoa. Just as it has been said that light is life, streetlights play very vital role in cities especially such like Yenagoa that lacks proper planning. Places like the Medford Okilo Expressway, DSP Alamieyeseigha Expressway, the Sani Abacha Road and the Isaac Boro Expressway were all illuminated by streetlights.
From 7:00 pm every day, the generator powered streetlights would light up very where, revealing the aesthetic beauty of an emerging city at nights. That would set the stage for nightlife for fun seekers.
Apart from night club freaks, petty traders who sell their stuff along major roads also make good use of the streetlights. Where there are streetlights, motorists driving at night may not even need to put on their headlights especially those with dysfunctional headlamps.
Above all, streetlights provide security for all -businessmen and fun seekers alike. With beaming and radiating streetlights, men of the underworld are discouraged from openly unleashing their nefarious activities on members of the public. Criminals ply their ugly trade easily at nights with the aid of thick darkness. They quickly dash into dark allies and disappear like vapor when security men go after them. But same cannot be said of a situation where there is the presence of streetlights. Indeed, livelier is a city where there are functional streetlights than its counterpart in darkness.
Yenagoa is enveloped in thick darkness. The streetlights are no longer working. A stroll round the Yenagoa metropolis reveals that the once illuminated city has become an ugly sight to behold at night. Visitors entering Yenagoa from the Igbogene suburb are welcomed by darkness that paints the capital city as unlively and without a sense of night life.
From the entrance of the town down to Yenagoa, the story is the same. Ovom, the community best described as the heart of the state capital is not spared. Ovom houses the Government House, the state banquet now renamed as DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall, the state civil servants secretariat and other government agencies and parastatals. The front area of the Government House and the adjoining facilities are also in darkness.
Independent investigation revealed that the darkness covering the lengths and breath of the city of Yenagoa during the night is inhibiting residents from enjoying nightlife to the fullest. It was learnt that bad boys have taken advantage of the situation, robbing and dispossessing residents of their belongings at night. Street robbery has increased in Yenagoa. Cell phone theft is the order of the day.
The evil ones have the mastery of positioning themselves at strategic dark spots to waylay their victims at gunpoint. And the eventual loser are those fun seekers, who relish fantasies at night; the biggest loser being the commercial sex workers.