BENIN: The Night Roars In Fun, Excitement

Aerial view of Oba Ovonramwen Square that houses the Museum at night

Aerial view of Oba Ovonramwen Square that houses the Museum at night

EDO is pre-dominantly a civil service state, yet a lot of people still have the cash to hang out at nights, because a lot of Benin sons and daughters reside abroad and they send money home. Benin is also a hub for travellers going to the Southeast and Southsouth. The city is busy with travellers 24 hours. To this end, hotels clubhouses and drinking spots dot the city, for both young and old travellers who pass the nights in Benin City.

The Guardian gathered that, in the early 70s, nightclubs like Talk of the Town, City Bell, Mr A and Central Hotel were the hot spots. Musicians then, such as Sir Victor Uwaifo, Patrick Idahosa, Mochikobay and several others coming from outside the region, made night crawlers savour what Benin was known for.

Crawlers came from Lagos, Warri and Sapele to the city to enjoy their weekends. But suddenly, a lull came, with Iyaro being an exception, because of travellers until the rebuilding of major infrastructure like roads and installation of street lights in some hitherto remote areas like Isinoro now Gani Fawehinmi Layout, where night life activities have sprung up

Nightlife in Benin City, which boomed in the 70s to 80s, and went down, as a result of the economic crises of that era, the rise in crime rate, particularly, after the notorious Lawrence Anini saga and then dilapidation of infrastructural facilities, is said to be on the upward swing — no thanks to the coming of Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s administration on November 11, 2008. It came with a reinvigoration of social activities in Benin City. The once famed melting point for travellers began to get infrastructural renewal.

Benin City, arguably, has the largest concentration of hotels, inns and guesthouses in Nigeria. On Boundary road, in the Government Reservation Area (GRA) alone, there are over 40 of such establishments, where night crawlers ply their trade ight.

A new dimension to the nightlife in the city is the emergence of strip tease/nude clubs, which did not exist few years ago. You can now find them hidden in some obscure areas in GRA.

Notable spots that have emerged in recent times include, one-time bubbling Time out, Aso Time, Anavini, Indigo, Tunnel, Iyaro Park, Carwash, Hipnotics Club, Hexagon Nightclub, Nova Nightclub, Jonvee and the Museum, where government has erected a beautiful water fountain that has now given rise to small drink and food joints in the place.

Iyaro Park, for instance, is a melting point for travelers, because from that point, they can get vehicles to any part of the country, or if it is too late, the area has enough entertainmentto take care of the needs of travelers till the following morning.

Various eating and drinking spots dot the area; there are also provision stores and pharmaceutical shops that run throughout the night. Small businesses like recharge card retail, telephone charging spots that charge at least N100 per phone are also booming. In this park, there are some petrol stations that run majorly in the night.

Besides Iyaro, which runs 24 hours, there are new and more organised joints for relaxation mostly at weekends, like the recently commissioned Kada Plaza, that has become a hub for fun seekers even from neighbouring Delta State.

The new dimension that it has brought with it, is the one stop shop for all fun facility that has a galleria for movie watcher, eateries, children play arena, shopping and others.

Aside from the glamour, in less than one year, the facility has had its fair share of the ‘Nigerian factor’, as officials saddled with the responsibility of managing the company, are said to have over bloated the manpower of the facility.

This, The Guardian gathered has led to the resignation and sack of not less than 200 staff of the facility. Some management staff has resigned to avoid the embarrassing sack that the owners wanted.
One thing about the city is that there are a lot of girls from different higher institutions in the state, who do, what is called ‘runs’, to survive. These girls are not like your normal call girls on the street, waiting for customers that will take them home. They are well organised, beautiful and intelligent.

Their pay per night is more than that of the usual call girls in town. Rich and affluent guys prefer to hangout with these girls because majority of them are intelligent and even from rich homes that you wonder what they are looking for.

One of them told The Guardian that they see it as adventure and opportunity to explore what they have watched, seen and read in the social media.

Another said they do that to augment what they get from home “most times, it is because of money. Some of us want money to look good in school and get our basic needs. You know that in school, sometimes, it is the number of big guys you know that matters. Again, some people hang out for the fun of it, not really about money but in that process they either get worse or better. So, it is just the society.”

Asked why they are described as runs girls, she said, “na runs na. Runs girls can travel to Port Harcourt or Abuja from Benin, and also come back to attend lectures. It is generally to help ourselves by meeting up with our status as big girls on campus.”

Investigations revealed that people who patronise these various pubs and girls cut across the social strata: politicians, bankers, businessmen, oil workers most of whose families stay in Benin and some persons who could be said to be jobless, but have brothers and other relatives abroad sustaining them.

Until recently, when there was improvement in infrastructure, 8pm was like midnight in many parts of the City. The city centre, Ring Road, was a den of hooligans, who mostly indulge in pick pocketing, robbery, rape and other vices.

Same as the Oba Ovaranmwen Square, which houses the museum was hitherto completely disorganised, dirty and unbefitting of a city centre. It was a nightmare to motorists and pedestrians, while it was in total darkness at night.

In fact, the Museum premises were a ready abode for all sorts of criminal activities while the few fun spots and other dotted spots were visited with utmost vigilance.

With the government’s urban renewal programmes, which included rehabilitating major roads in the city with streetlights, nightlife gradually crept back to the city.

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