Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Operators of recreational parks and gardens in Abuja are wearing long faces. Although they knew that they might record low sales during Christmas/ New Year holidays , they were not expecting patronage to be too low.
“Look at the garden, less than 10 persons in a big garden of this nature. Nobody would be happy about this,”
George Ita who runs a garden adjacent to Customs quarters, Utako lamented.
The poor patronage was principally as a result of the mass exodus of residents out of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and to some extent due to biting economic hardship. Unlike other festive seasons, the parks attracted a fewer number of celebrators or fun-seekers this year.
A small number of children who decked themselves in Christmas dresses, caps, eye-glasses and watches were seen junketing gleefully in and around the recreational parks.
At Monalisa, the callers were very few at mid-afternoon. From the entrance gate, it was clear that only a few persons would be in the recreation centre because of the scanty number of cars at the park. This was sharply different from previous festive periods when parking spaces were a problem for both callers and security people.
The inside was a replica of the few cars in the parking space as many of the games had not been used at all because children preferred more exciting facilities like bumper cars, fly ship and fly boat to the other less-fancied ones like merry-go-round, animal game, boxing game or football game etc.
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One of the fun seekers who came with his three children, his wife and maid, Mr. Ogo Egenti, said: “Although, this year has been very tough for us, we thank God for keeping us till this day. So, we are celebrating the gift of life because many people did not live to see this day.”
Mercy Chukwukadibia, said: “Having fun also helps our kids to be educationally, morally and socially sound. Having fun together encourages mutual bonding.” According to her, such fun should not only be on festive periods. It can also be on weekends. She urged the government to provide more facilities in the park, as it would boost patronage.
At Silverbird, a lot more fun-seekers were seen with loved ones and their children. The car-park was somewhat full and inside the gallery children busied themselves with all manner of games such as power bike riding, horse-riding, fly boat, fighting game, shooting game, animal rescue, merrygo-round etc.
Micheal Onah was in company of his wife and six children. He said: My work takes me away more often. So, I hardly have time for my family. But when situations like this come I usually make my family happy.”
His wife, Elizabeth, said: “I thank God for His mercies that He has brought us together again. Although this year was a bit more difficult than last year, God made provisions. So, I want the children to have fun and en-
joy themselves together because they would soon go back to their bases.”
One of the operators who pleaded anonymity said he recorded low patronage this year than last year. He complained that he brought in some animal games, which cost him so much money. Unfortunately he has not recouped his money not to talk of making gains. He also said that a stand in cost him a lot of money and because of the cost of playing the game people avoided his stand.