OSOGBO: Cash Crunch, Unpaid Salaries Affect Entertainment

Dry night in Osogbo

Dry night in Osogbo

IN Osun State, nightlife activities, including clubbing, parties, transportation and patronage at various relaxation centres across the state, which used to be common features and relevant aspect of life of the people, have become a shadow of themselves.

The Guardian’s investigations show that owners of different outlets that sustain nightlife activities are struggling to survive with very low patronage. This development has not only affected the social outlook of the state, but has also impacted on the economic life of citizens and the state.

At De Place, a popular bar and one of the oldest hangouts in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, the high patronage the facility used to enjoy has gone down, and fewer people now visit the place. In the past, activities here used to drag into midnight before crawlers return home. But now, business is very low, reveals the General Manager, Olanrewaju Alimi, who said business is at the lowest ebb now.

He told The Guardian that the usual busy activities and high turnout of customers has reduced drastically. Alimi said the situation has affected the number of workers and salary structure, because according to him, the management has to device means for survival and service few customers around in order to remain in business.

“We used to have a lot of crowd here. From 5pm, to early hours the following day, people occupy all the available space. But now, activities have gradually thinned out.”

He added, “musicians that used to be around for entertainment of guests at night are also affected, because of low business.”

Be that as it may, Alimi said the state government ensures that there is regular patrol by the combined team of law enforcement officers, including, the police and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

At Fingerlicking, a mega bar and restaurant located on Gbongan-Osogbo Road, the same business lull pervades. When the place was opened about three years ago, it used to attract people of low and high social status due to its easy accessibility and facilities provided by the management.

Though, the general manager was not available to share experience with The Guadian, it was observed that very few people now patronise the place, particularly now that workers have not been paid salaries running into months.

A staff, which craved anonymity, said Osun is essentially a civil service state and therefore, when workers are not paid, it affects everybody.

Another drinking joint and bar popularly called, ‘Abe Igi Aanu’ literarily translated as, ‘Under the Tree of Mercy’ at Agunbelowo area, on Ilobu -Osogbo Road; equally showed that crawlers no longer come out.

Abe Igi plays hosts to people of different shades of opinion, including professionals, artisans, politicians, traders and those who are fun seekers looking for relaxation. Here, the attendance used to be high, while patronisers stay till midnight. The bustling activities have also suffered due to harsh economic reality of the time.

Mrs. Idowu Yemisi, the proprietress of a medium size bar at Fagbewesa area, Osogbo, was full of complaints about low sales and patronage by her customers. She said that the economic challenge has affected her business, which has also compelled her to close earlier than usual. In the past, she noted that her customers might stay up until 12 midnight before they depart home. “I am only struggling to stay in business because there is no market.”

When The Guardian visited Sport Club, Osogbo, reputed to be one of the oldest in town, which in fact, used to draw members and non-members in large number, the situation was not different. The management attributed low patronage to the prevailing economic reality.

Some members said that this is due to people’s inability to make ends meet. “You know in the present circumstance, you have to think first about how to take care of your family before you venture out for relaxation. We pray government does something to improve the financial situation of members and others who come here,” one of them said.

Prince Kunle Tayo Akanni, an active member of Excellent Club of Nigeria in Adeleke Estate, Egbedore Local Council, observed that attendance by members has reduced.

The water engineer, who said he enjoys nightclubbing for relaxation and business contact, lamented the sharp decline in activities at the ever-busy clubhouse.

He said attendance in the club has reduced drastically unlike in the past when the economy was buoyant. According to Akanni, many members who found it easy to patronise the club have suddenly reduced the frequency of their visit.

Akanni said he used to enjoy himself by staying out in the night because of the social and economic benefits derived from being out, but now, the economic situation has affected this activity.

The reality of the economic situation has also rubbed off on the transportation system, which now makes it less attractive for people to move about at night. In the past, people engaged in night travelling both within and outside the city. Commercial transporters often referred to as Kabukabu, which convey night crawlers and partygoers to their destination have reduced.

The cumulative decline in night activities has also affected the desire by government to improve on the state economy and expand ability to generate revenue. The situation becomes more worrisome in view of the dwindling resources from oil where many states derive the largest chunk of their income.

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