John Shiklam writes on how harsh economic condition in the country is forcing many young girls in Kaduna into prostitution
Some people call it 'Free Republic', but it is popularly known as 'Obalende'.
For many years, Maiduguri Road, in the heart of Kaduna has carved a niche for itself as the most exciting place for the fun seekers.
On Maiduguri Road, there has never been a dull moment. The area is well known for its bustling night life. For those who are addicted to everything that takes place in the dark, Obalende is just the ideal place to go.
Beer parlours, pepper soup joints, Suya Joints and women of easy virtues are all that make Obalende a distinct place. Every night there is always something to remember, either positively or negatively, depending on how the day starts and ends.
But apart from the countless drinking joints, Obalende is better known as a home to the teeming prostitutes in the city. Sex is actually one of the most thriving businesses in the area. To be sure, many landlords, whose houses are located along the street have converted them into brothels to accommodate the influx of commercial sex workers.
During the day time, the area is empty and desolate, except for a few mini-shops that open for business.
But, at 5pm when business activities commence, Obalende returns to what defines it. By this time, the beer parlour operators start setting chairs and tables for the arrival of customers. At 7pm, the area is congested as the Maiduguri Road which connects to Constitution Road and Daura Road is blocked by a crowd of night crawlers.
A variety of exotic cars are parked by the road side. Those who patronise the area cut across all social strata. Indeed, for those doing business in the area, night time is a day time and day time is a night time. On Maiduguri Road, the night greets morning in commercial sex business.
From 7 pm, the booming sex business begins with young ladies clad in transparent cloth and sometime almost appearing nude. They walk around the area soliciting for patronage. Some also stand by their allocated rooms at the brothels, awaiting regular customers. And as soon as a customer arrives, there is always a mad rush to grab him by his manhood for what they call 'erotic welcome' at the brothels.
The commercial sex workers often scramble as each of them deploys all unimaginable tactics to win a customer.
They are daring in the trade and appear to have a code of conduct not known to the real business world.
It was learnt that many of them are either school drop outs or graduates. Many of them were said to be students of tertiary institutions also.
A THISDAY investigation reveals that the prostitutes are classified into different categories; there are those who are permanently based in the brothels, there those who come from the campuses "to execute runs" and there are those who come from their homes to find a means of livelihood.
Young girls who serve in the restaurants and drinking joints and some few housewives are also said to be engaged in the commercial sex trading.
The environment where the sex workers carry out their trade is easily identified by used condoms, cigarette stubs, empty cans of beer and used toiletries that make it an eyesore.
The bomb explosion in the area in 2011 notwithstanding, Obalende has remained unshaken to the activities of the deadly Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Many of them are young girls between the ages of 16 to 23. Some have permanent apartments there, while some just come around to do "business" and go back to their various homes.
But Obalende is not the only sex empire in the northern city. Viviana, a very popular drinking joint located at Narayi High Cost in the Southern part of Kaduna metropolis is also gradually assuming notoriety for prostitutes. Although there is no brothel around the area yet, young girls have turned the road passing through the beer parlour to a sex market.
By 10 pm, hundreds of girls dressed in skimpy clothes could be seen by the road side scouting for their customers. THISDAY gathered that many of the girls who are students in the Southern part of the city are either staying off campus or coming from their homes.
Beside Narayi, the dark corners at areas like Independence Way, around Lugard Hall and Warf Road also provide a haven for the prostitutes.
Until recently joints in Abakpa area called PDP andNAF Club at Rabbah Road were also popular base for prostitutes. The Boko Haram insurgence had impacted their trade.
Some of the girls are said to be the ones paying for their school fees and taking care of their younger ones.
Several reasons are responsible for the increasing rate of prostitute. According to a student of Kaduna State University who simply gave her name as Rose, many parents cannot afford to give their daughters enough money that will sustain them in school so they have to look for other ways of making money to be able to meet their needs.
"Imagine my parents giving me just N10, 000 for a session, how will I cope? It is from this N10, 000 that I will buy my food stuff, buy hand outs, pay for group assignment, buy toiletries and other basic needs of a girl etc, this is simply not enough, so I think this is one of the reasons that girls do go out of their ways to do certain things to supplement their income" she said.
Also commenting on the issue, a retired civil servant, Mr. Alfred Yakubu said many girls are going into prostitution today because of the economic hardship that many families are going through.
Yakubu who noted that prostitution is not necessarily going to stay in the brothel, stressed that many young girls are so materialistic minded that even if their parents, in their little way strives to cater for their needs, they will still not be contented because of greed and the quest to compete with those from a wealthy background.
"Many of us parents can hardly even afford to pay the school fees, talk less of giving our parents enough money for feeding and other needs. How many families can even afford three square meals? Some parents cannot properly feed their children, not to talk of even clothing them very well. Of course, you know that the girls are the most expensive to cater for. A boy can wear one shirt for one week and he doesn't give a damn, but not a girl. And as she grows into maturity, her demands become higher, if you can't take care of her basic needs, it will take the grace of God to stop her from following men. That is the dilemma many parents have found themselves," he said.
It was also learnt that the increasing rate of unemployment is also forcing many girls into prostitution, especially what is referred to in some circles as executive prostitution- a system where a girl offers sex for money to any interesting person as often as possible to make ends meet.
According to Yakubu, when a girl has graduated from school and has no job and no husband, she is susceptible to a lot of temptations that will only take somebody with high moral standard and fear of God to resist.
He called on governments at all levels to create employment opportunities to millions of jobless graduates in order to address social problems like prostitution and the increasing rate of crime across the country.
He noted that the Nigeria society is fast drifting towards social backwardness as a result of the economic situation, stressing that the idea of morality is fast losing its essence as a result of the failure of value system that propelled the people to contribute and provide a framework for societal regeneration.