A motorist, Bukola, told Daily Sun that she gets irritated and uncomfortable with the traffic entertainers: “I don’t trust them at all,” describing them as fraudsters that derive pleasure in distracting motorists to rob them.
Entertainment in Nigeria has obviously grown into multibillion naira industry, creating thousands of jobs down the value chain, with significant contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Peoples’ ingenuity created different platforms through which they entertain at political meetings, social gatherings and several other forums to earn a living and ease stress.
Traffic junctions in Abuja are now being used for different comical shows and displays. Like Lagos and other major Nigerian cities, Abuja residents are daily confronted with growing traffic challenge at different locations in the city as a result of growth in population.
It could be a horrible experience during the morning hours when residents are heading to their places of work, and in the evening hours when they are going back home. But some young men have taken advantage of the heavy vehicular movement to make fortunes at traffic junctions. These are young entertainers who, apparently, could not get opportunity to display their comic or acrobatic skills at the big comedy shows in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and other cities.
They have taken hold of strategic junctions and traffic lights in pairs, dressed uniquely in Nigeria’s green and white or other coloured dresses, with bands tied round their head and arms. They operate from one location to another depending on the time of the day. But they could easily be found at main junctions in Wuse 2. They also perform at Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Games Village junction, Gimbiya Street junction at Area 11 and other junctions along Ahmadu Bello Way.
Taking advantage of their youthful energy and flexibility of their body, they entertain motorists, commuters and traffic police officials with different kinds of acrobatic display and other comical entertainment. They have obviously trained themselves in the art. And they display high skills and knowledge of the acrobatics to the point that motorists fear for their safety.
They kept mouths of motorists wide open by their kind of risky acrobatic displays. Amid the fears and surprises, some motorists enjoy the entertainment to the point they forget when the traffic lights change to green. Some are left with the only option of appreciating them with financial gifts.
A motorist, Bukola, told Daily Sun that she gets irritated and uncomfortable with the traffic entertainers: “I don’t trust them at all,” describing them as fraudsters that derive pleasure in distracting motorists to rob them. She said that some “careless” women are the most affected as well as many other motorists who, perhaps, have bad day at work and need humorous moment to ease stress:
“These traffic entertainers have their agents strategically positioned to rob motorists who they might have succeeded in getting their full attention. I always adjust my seat and activate my central lock each time I sight them at any of the traffic junctions in Abuja particularly along Gwarimpa Expressway by Next Cash and Carry supermarket.”
Activities of these traffic entertainers many times caused unnecessary traffic obstructions and crashes in some cases. They have been allegedly aided by some traffic wardens who perhaps have lost focus and attention.
Another motorist, Bassey, said he witnessed an incident at Rita Lori junction in Garki 2, when a driver lost concentration and nearly had an accident. Another experience was that many drivers particularly in the front row on traffic junctions would concentrate on watching the display and forget that they are on traffic:
“Suddenly the light would turn green and other drivers at the back would horn repeatedly before the ones at the front row could restart their engines and engage the gear. It was annoying.”
A traffic warden at NITEL junction in Wuse 2 described the acrobatic display as a “game of death.” He confessed that he enjoys watching the display of such unique skills: “They always take the attention of drivers each time they come, especially in the evening. I am always lucky because they come when I am done with my shift or about to finish.
“It allows me the opportunity to do Christmas for my eyes. But it could be annoying sometimes when drivers’ attentions are lost to them. I was forced to punish a female driver one day that I was on duty. Her attention was totally lost on the guys and almost collided with another vehicle.” Another traffic warden said he took time to video the guys at the height of the display so he could regularly use it to entertain himself whenever he is bored.
Our correspondent caught up with the traffic entertainers at BPE junction in Maitama in the course of their outing. They confessed that traffic entertainment was what they have chosen to do and no regret for that:
“People enjoy what we do and they show appreciation in the financial and other gifts they give to us. We don’t have the financial and logistics support to organize big events/shows and that was why we chose to entertain Nigerians at different traffic junctions.”
One of them, who identified himself as Yahaya, said: “Nigerians are daily faced with different socioeconomic, political and family challenges. There is need for regular moment of laughter to ease stress. And we are glad to be doing that.”
He confessed that It took himself and some of his colleagues that operate within and outside Abuja, years to get adequate training for the acrobatic display: “And that is why we do it with ease.”