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Iyaro still bubbles

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LAST week, I was at Benin City, the capital of Edo State to see a friend. I took off time to once more savour the beauty of the ancient city, more especially the Benin Bronze, carving and architectural edifices and designs that remind the lovers of art the creative ingenuity of generations gone and as well, bring to fore the spirit of preservation and maintenance culture of the Edolites.

 While moving round the city, I savoured the serenity and appreciated the bronze artifacts displayed on some of the art gallery I looked into. As evening started crawling in, I remembered those good old days when while on holidays, I will travel to Lagos in a luxury bus to see my aunty and my cousins and that buses used to stop at Iyaro Park for passengers to eat, drink, urinate and stretch their legs and muscles.

 In those days, most of us liked travelling with night buses because of the night life that existed at Iyaro Park then.

  At first, I imagined that with the new road that make vehicles to travel to Lagos straight without going through Iyaro Park, coupled with the fact that people no longer enjoy night travels nowadays due to high rate of insecurity in the country that Iyaro Park would be a ghost of its former self.

  However, after much thinking and imagination, I decided to go and find out the state of affairs at Iyaro Park, and believe you me, Iyaro Park has not changed! By 10pm when I got to Iyaro Park, the place was aglow with activities just like in the long years gone.

The things that have changed  included good network  of roads, the environment is now kept, new structures were in place, mostly hotels; but the usual bustle and hustling of night life instead of going into oblivion is on the rise with modifications that will leave indelible marks in the minds of first time visitors.

  At Iyaro, it is business as usual; shanties have given way to solid structures while those who could not go for solid structures make do with tarpaulins where seats and tables are scientifically arranged. In every nook and cranny of the park, there are several live bands to entertain people who according to my findings, are not in short supply for commuters who take-off late from their various bases to different destinations both in the South east, South-West, South-South and even some parts of Northern Nigeria do anchor at Iyaro park in the nights for early movement in the mornings. This makes Iyaro Park to still remain its old-self in terms of providing various for people.

  Apart from various standby live bands, there are also jesters and drummers that add colour to the renditions of the various live bands. Anything edible is around, from meat, fish to different types of food and soup;

not to talk of assorted drinks that are available, including traditional liquors. Another interesting episode in this all year round fun-filled “republic” is that everybody at different doted joints have one common interest, which is to catch fun in its fullest and as such, see each other as the same brother and ‘bird’ in the jungle of fun-seeking; 

hence they share things in common and crack jokes without any discrimination in terms of greed, race, tribe or religion; a pointer that fun-seeking and entertainment might provide a panacea for  people of Nigeria to live in peace and harmony.

  On further enquiry, it was discovered that Iyaro Park hosts two different traders, thus, there are those who operate during the days and those who operate in the nights, and that’s why there is never a dull moment at the park.

  At Iyaro, that maxim that “all that glitters are not gold” comes into play for the place hosts both the good and the ugly. Hence, despite the presence of security personnel and security patrol teams, pick-pockets still operate in the park, a ploy new comers fall into as they are usually carried away by the fun-fare at the park.

Also, the age-long hangers on, who trade their body for money, are still kicking. They have now added new tact to lure prospective customers; some of them dress pornographically and even go the extent of asking for dance on the floor. The ugliest part is the fact that young girls whose ages range between 15 and 17 indulge in this debasement of womanhood.

  Most of these teenagers when accosted on why they instead of attending school, involve themselves in prostitution said that they were students in various classes in secondary schools but take to prostitution to augment the payment of their school fees and other sundry requirements which their parents or guardians could not provide the money for because of the harsh economic climate of the country.

 Asked how much they make per night, they postulated that on the average, if business turns out right, they make between N3,000—N4,500. This excludes drinks, cigarettes, food and meat some of their ‘customers’ buy for them.

  They bemoaned the rate of low income on the part of older ‘professionals’ who charge less as people now prefer them because of their low charges.

  On the other hand, the older women pour endless abuses and curses on these teenagers for delving into the field in their early youths, and stressed that ‘customers ‘now prefer them “as they (customers) refer to them as ‘Sweet – sixteen’ or ‘Broilers’ and refer to us as “condemned oil or old layers.”

  Despite all these shortfalls of Iyaro Park, it is still for night crawlers and fun-seekers to visit and have good fun and razzmatazz for their money; after all one man’s poison is another man’s food. For me, I enjoyed my stay at Iyaro Park Benin-City, Edo State of Nigeria from 10pm till 5pm when I hoped into the early morning vehicle down to Anambra State.

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