By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT,widely known as Garden city is a bubbling capital city in the country. It is a place every Nigerian with taste for the good things of life want to visit and spend their vacation.
At a time, it was common gossip that the most fashionable people and beautiful women in Africa were in Port Harcourt. The emergence of Agbani Darego from the riverine speaking area of the state as the first African to clinch the coveted crown of Miss World, Most Beautiful Girl in the World, reinforced the talk that the most beautiful queens were found in this trendy city.
It is common knowledge that life is not cheap in Port Harcourt because the women like every glamour girl, are not cheap. You see some of them in their radiance and beauty at red light districts in new GRA area of Port Harcourt where you find most of the night clubs.
Before Chibuike Amaechi came on board as governor in his first term, night life was almost at a halt because miscreants and brigands who masqueraded as militants had held the state under siege. So most residents and party lovers had no choice but to remain indoors after close of work.
But when Amaechi assumed office, one of the first task he undertook was to dislodge these hoodlums from the city. He smoked them out from their hideouts with the aid of the Joint Task Force, JTF. The few who were lucky to escape arrest and prosecution by the security body fled the town. Night life resumed again, this time more colourful in almost all parts of the city.
In virtually all major streets you find drinking spots, with Nija jams blaring from speakers from 8pm and sometimes till dawn. It is difficult to tell which is a night club in this city because these drinking spots operate also as night clubs from 8pm, even some restaurants and car wash do too.
You spend about thrice the amount for any call girl in other states, in Port Harcourt. This is simply because the girls are rated in a class of their own.
Most guys begin their evenings with their lady friends at the Silver bird cinema. From the movie hall, they empty into the bar where there is a live Disc Jockey, DJ, dishing out jams from his corner at the bar. Later, they move out to other night clubs in new GRA and other parts of Port Harcourt. The list of night clubs, restaurants/bars and car wash-turned night clubs is endless.
You see all manner of charming babes at these spots mostly at weekends. Guys on their part have categorised these girls. There are those they nick named 100 level ( those between 18 to 21) and these ones are the most patronised even if they ask for as much as ten, twenty thousand to give a guy good company for a night.
The girls prefer night at hotels with guys. According to Nkechi, “night at hotels with the guys shields her from all kinds of harassment”. She said no woman for instance would walk into the room in a hotel to embarrass her for spending night with the husband.
Night life in the city has also brought brisk business for operators of popular drinking spots. At some of them, a bottle of Heineken sells as high as five hundred to eight hundred naira, sometimes even at one thousand, two hundred naira. Choice drinks like Hennessey, Black label go for as much as twenty five thousand naira at some of the spots.
These drinks are taken with ‘point and kill’ i.e. fish made into pepper soup. The customer is led to a makeshift pond in the bar or club and given the opportunity to point at any fish which will be used to prepare pepper soup for him and his guest (s). The price of the ‘point and kill’ varies from the size of the fish and the spot. Some of them could sell for four or five thousand naira.
Those into fast food business and suya are also counting their gains with the return of night life to the city. Sometimes, you see guys rush out of the clubs to have quick meals made from indomie prepared with fried eggs. Fast food operators mount their stands close to most of these busy spots.
There is also the angle of business for taxi drivers. You see them hang around these clubs and bars to take passengers home after a night full of fun. A taxi driver, Mr Bola told Saturday Vanguard that he only operated at night.
According to him, he starts working from 10 pm till 5am daily while he rests in the day time. He said he makes what he calls ‘his cool money’ at night. He said all he does is to hang around these busy night clubs and restaurants turned night clubs for patronage, adding that most of his clients were girls.
The taxi driver said some of the girls move to as much as three, four clubs in one night until they meet a guy that is ready to engage them for their ‘service’ for the night. “These girls they pay well o, Oga Journalist, “, he said.
Unlike in the past when residents of Port Harcourt lived in fear, with increased security patrol, night life has returned again, this time with much fun in Port Harcourt widely referred to as Garden city.