Awka’s Abakaliki Street That Never Sleeps




                                      Awka’s Abakaliki Street That Never Sleeps




                                                      By Emeka Chiaghanam           

Once it is 10pm in Awka, Anambra State capital, most streets look deserted as life recedes to homes and neighbourhoods. Most households would have gone to bed. Even the ever-busy UNIZIK Junction, about the busiest spot in Awka metropolis, begins to blink inactivity but there is one street in the city of Awka, which refuses to bow to the quietude that accompanies the night. It is Abakaliki Street. When other parts of town sleep, it experiences surge in businesses on a high social scale.                   

A visit to the street in daytime paints a picture of a serene area, where business runs in the most formal fashion. For a first time visitor, you have no inkling how daytime veils the rambunctious night on this street. Do you want to feel the night pulse of Awka, until dawn beckons, particularly on weekends? Abakaliki Street is the place to be.       
                          
Mention the name Agu Okpunu, Umudioka, Awka , the name might not ring a bell, but that was once the name of what is today the famous Abakaliki Street. Not only does the street stand as one of the most heard streets, it houses the liveliest hot spots and big boys’ hangouts in Awka metropolis.

 A clubber in the state capital, who has not visited Abakaliki Street at night, most people believe, has not experienced nightlife in the city. The street is tucked away at the bustling Nnamdi Azikiwe University Temporal Site in downtown Awka.   

The street properly opens at the second intersection that runs from the UNIZIK Temporal Site to Okpuno Road and terminates at Hollywood PLAYHOUSE Night Club, but the impact of the Abakiliki Street extends beyond it. The well-known Cofi Lounge and Bar, is in Abakaliki Street. The signpost on the road reads De Geogold Road, but to most people, it is Abakaliki Street. Charter a commercial motorcycle or tricycle in the night and mention Abakaliki Street, the chance is that you end up here first or taken to the other end.

 Due to the popularity of Abakaliki Street, other than its name, the road at the Kwata Junction of the newly constructed Awka landmark, Tower Bridge on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway that connects to Hollywood PLAYHOUSE Night Club, from Iyi Agu Awka end, often, people refer to as Abakaliki Street.

Apart from the hospitality industry and entertainment spots, the street has other businesses. It has one of the biggest pharmacies in Awka. The plaza housing the pharmacy is a two-story building. The Plaza is beginning to gain reputation as an upscale centre, and some emerging couture stores and accessories sales spots. People do take selfie at the Plaza, post it on Facebook claiming to be on the premises of a shopping plaza overseas. 

So are other business entities on this street. Churches such as Redeemed Christian Church of God, TREM, and The Brethren, Assemblies of God Church, among others exist at the other end of this street. Sometimes, when the churches organise night programme, remarkably, the sounds from the entertainment spots dwarf theirs. On this street also are some residential buildings but mostly students’ hostels.   

What makes Abakaliki Street thick at night is no other than the plethora of nightclubs and the girls of easy virtues that throng the entire stretch overnight. They are never in short supply, mostly young girls. Some are students, while others merely claim to be students but are from neighbouring towns and states.

Presence of gun touting Mobile Police team patrolling the street indicates the presence of prominent figures catching fun. According to regulars, on a bad day for these ladies, when prominent figures don’t patronize the street, Policemen in their Hilux Pickup, raid the street to arrest ladies found on the street but will never touch those found inside club or in bar or with male companions. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see ladies rush to the side of men, even those they have not met before at the sight of police van.      

All shades and colours of ladies flock the street with more than enough sight of swinging hips, bouncing boobs, gait, and posture taken to a new dimension. As the night matures and the energy increases, so would amorousness take place, sometimes, near pools of neatly parked cars on both sides of the street, you can see some male clubbers bargain for carnal pleasure, while ladies solicit male customers; some are near to mating, lost in another world, no strange feeling to see empty packs of condoms. On this I mission I saw a lots of Gold Circle brand liter the gutter or the sideways in the morning.    

No single street in Awka boasts of the number of nightclubs as Abakaliki Street. It perhaps, harbours the best. The street has four well-known brands of nightclubs at present and speculations of more to open soon. Counting from the adjoining street is Cofi Lounge and Bar. The nightclub stands out structure wise and is the only club on its axis. The club is still one of the most famous nightclubs in town. Some clubbers said it is beginning to lose its place as the nightclub to wind down in recent time.

Three years ago, if you haven’t been to Cofi, you haven’t been to any nightclub in Awka. Cofi, many people argued has hosted more shows than any other nightclub in Awka, but some people consider it an elitist nightclub and drinks there are a bit more expensive. You need a pass to enter Cofi.                

 An attendant at Cofi said a pass is no longer required to enter the club. He explained that the club took the measure of security serious by chasing some ladies away from the entrance, because they would never enter Cofi, but solicits male companions and in the process overcrowd access to the club. As of Cofi losing its top position, he said, it is natural for people to flock to a new nightclub but that hasn’t affected the club patronage. Aside Cofi as the only nightclub at this end, are some open space relaxation centres on both sides of the road terminating just behind the back entrance of De Goegold Hotels.   

 At Abakaliki Street proper are the remaining nightclubs. The most popular is the Mars Sca Fi, formally known as H20 Bar and Restaurant, owned by a former drycleaner, who used to patronize Gaga Nightclub. The club is a story building painted in red and silver colour. Mars Sca Fi is not the first nightclub on the street, but the biggest.

The club is centrally located and has the largest patronage at any given time. Unlike most nightclubs in town, Mars Sca Fi, doesn’t sound elitist, it has an open space which gives almost the same feeling inside where people enjoy themselves with the price of drinks at a cheaper rate. 

Novu Villa Lounge and Bar is the first nightclub on the street, formerly known as Gaga. Novu Villa is the first nightclub as you enter the street from the UNIZIK end. A building you might mistake for a roadside bar, but the inside sings a different song. Patronage here compares less to Mars Sca Fi and Cofi. It has the ambiance of a cool spot.  

Hollywood PLAYHOUSE Nightclub sits at the tail end of the street, which many people erroneously refer to as the beginning of the street. The nightclub gives the impression of an elitist nightclub. Though a story building, but occupies little space. It has nice interiors, with a balcony that reminds you of multi stories theatres abroad.

Ken Villa is a building away from Mars Sca Fi, it is a bar at the verge of metamorphosing into full fledged nightclub which owner vision suggests giving Mars Sca Fi, a run for its money? Nevertheless, space and location may not permit that. But there is story to the street’s name.            
As at the year 2003, Abakaliki Street never existed. The whole area was a thick bush that no one even cultivated for a farm, until, Chief Peter Uzor, of Igbeagu, Izzi L.G.A. of Ebonyi State, first settled there. Uzor has lived in Awka, since 1975.

According to Uzor, when he settled on the street in April 2003, there was no building there, neither was there an access road. “The nearest building was the Hotel De Lamitel. I had to make a footpath to connect to Hotel De Lamitel. My family lived here for some time until the owner of the adjacent building came to live on the street and others followed suit. Armed robbers do invade my house often, even in broad daylight.

“I never liked the idea of taking the footpath to my house from Hotel De Lamitel all the time, where there could be a passage in front of it. In June 2004, I hired some labourers, and constructed the road on this street with hoes, and cutlasses, though, unpaved.”

After paving the road, Uzor said he approached officials of Awka South Local Government Area at Amawbia to inform them of his project. “When they came, they were impressed with what they saw and asked me what name I wanted the street to bear. I replied Abakailki Street. They asked me why not my name or that of any of my children.

I told them I would stick with Abakaliki; because that is the only legacy that I could leave for my people in Awka.” He argued that same thing applies to some Anambra State indigenes in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State with streets named after their towns. He noted that more than a dozen of Anambra towns have streets named after them in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.

Happy with what he has done, he said, “The local government officials asked for my tax clearance, other relevant documents, and the normal fee to register the street. As at that point, I had exhausted the money I had on me on the road project. What I did was to use my wife’s school fees and that of my children for the street project. My wife, an Awka indigene was then a student at Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe.

For a semester, and term neither my wife nor children attended school. It was part of their sacrifice for both the road and street projects. That was how the name of the street came to be. I maintained the road two to three times a year, until Anambra State Government paved it in 2013.”

Ebere Arinze’s family was the second occupant on the street. Presently, her family house is sandwiched between two nightclubs Mars Sca Fi and Ken Villa. She told me that at first, she and her mother had to run back to where they relocated. In her words, “When we moved in newly to our house, no other building stood on this street than that of Chief Peter Uzor. The whole place was like a thick forest. Every day, all manner of animals invade our compound, especially at night.
We ran back to where we came from. When I gained admission to the University of Benin, my Mother decided to come back. She reasoned that having a house of her own - it makes no sense to be sleeping in rented apartment, and more so, when a building now stands opposite ours. What my mother did was to pass the nights with the Uzors’ family until I graduated. Coming back to Awka, a man started erecting a building down the road and others followed suit.       

Then, our concern aside the animals that invaded our compound, robbery was a common occurrence, even in broad daylight, today, it is noise pollution. In as much as business booms for hospitality service providers and nightclubs and other related businesses at night on this street, it has led to the deterioration of my mother’s health over the years. We hardly sleep at the night. My mother suffers from stroke.

On several occasions, clubbers had their cars parked in front our gates blocking access to the road. There was a time, an emergency occurred and I had to take my mother to hospital but a car blocked the gate. We share a common fence with Mars Sca Fi, and on many occasions, I have asked the owner to reposition his loudspeakers from our fence, but he refused. We plan to relocate to a serene environment soonest for the sake of my mother’s health.” 

A tricycle operator who identified himself, as Chucks said, “Plying Abakaliki Street is good business. “I’m one of the few tricycle operators who do charter service for the ladies who patronize Abakaliki Street. Some of them have our phone numbers. We have cordial business relationship with them.

Once they give us a call, we know where to pick them. Moreover, sometimes, we ply the route picking and dropping some of them, particularly those that are new to the business on the street. Not all that came with men in cars leave with them. Abakaliki Street is not a bad business.”             
Awka’s Abakaliki Street That Never Sleeps                                                   Awka’s Abakaliki Street That Never Sleeps Reviewed by Emeka Chiaghanam on Saturday, January 06, 2018 Rating: 5

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