Daily Trust (Abuja)

29 December 2012

Nigeria: Christmas - Children Take Charge At Wonderland, Other Parks

It was low key for adults in Abuja, definitely not so with the kids who showed less concern or worry about the nation's insecurity and went to town to enjoy themselves full blast in and around the various relaxation spots in the nation's federal capital city Abuja. For them, it is and has to be fun all the way. The popular Millennium Park, Wonderland and other amusement parks, made a lot of money from fun-seekers.

Some parents who took their time to accompany their children also had fun while keeping watch on their kids. Could they have just stood like that? There were other adults too who came to the various amusement and relaxation spots during the Christmas break to enjoy themselves and while away time, especially those who are singles.

From the entrance, ticket vendors of Wonderland Amusement Park near the City Gate, charged N300 per person, regardless of age, but the fun seekers or their parents paid without any complaint as they were ready for the yuletide.

The children speak. Joseph Ayuba,12, said he has been visiting the Wonderland and Amusement Park since he was in primary school and has always enjoyed it. "It is something that makes my Christmas complete. We meet our friends from school here. We live in different parts of Abuja, but during Christmas our parents know we are all coming to meet here, so they give us money, attach us with driver or even bring us themselves to meet our friends and have fun."

However, for ten-year old Grace Nana of Immaculate Academy, Abuja, she did not enjoy her activity at the park this year, because they came very late and was unable to spend much time in the fun city. "I told my mother to bring us back on Boxing Day and she agreed. Tomorrow, we'll try and be here as early as we can."

Even though, the older persons were conscious of how much time to spend in a bid to catch the fun, the younger fun seekers were apparently not bothered about the insecurity.

Vehicles were parked in large numbers at the various places of rest. In fact, some had to park far away from the entrance, at least almost by the popular city gate that leads to the airport and some parts of the National Stadium.

However, there was presence of security operatives in and around the vicinity and even around the areas provided for vehicles to park that are distances from the main relaxation spots.

Many children came with their toys and other related items to the parks, while the others use the games facilities available in the parks and amusement spots

Though it was Christmas celebration, families of other faith were there to wind down. Isiaka Aliyu is a Muslim but was at the park with his family. He said he has promised them to take them out before he travelled two weeks ago, thus on his returned from the trip, he could not renege on the promise.

"It is just a coincidence that we are here today and it is Christmas. I had promised my two kids and their mum that I would take them out. On my return I had no option than obey that gentleman promise. Interestingly, I observed that my children are enjoying their fun. They apparently like the fact that there are other children. They enjoy the play."

Mr. Benjamin Charles told Weekly Trust that he prefers coming to the open space where he chats with his wife, while the kids play out there in the open space. "Millennium Park is a natural fun spot unlike others in other parts of the city. We do come here to meet our family friends especially those did not travel out of Abuja here. We do organize even our tribal association end-of-year event at the Millennium Park, including our church end-of-year picnic. As for my family, after sharing our food with neighbors at home, we bring the rest here to stay together as a family, my kids like the whole idea."

Some traders made brisk business around the vicinities. They sort of entice the little children with their wares, mostly the popular Father Christmas items; like the Santaz hat, flutes, balloons etc. Even if they didn't bother about them initially, the moment the children get attracted to the items, they cry until their parents' purchase some for them.

Madam Rose Anakwe who came all the way from Mararaba in Nasarawa State said she came to the place reluctantly, because of the insecurity. "I never wanted to come. I came because of my children. It is a yearly event for us to bring them here. We started this about three years ago. If I had not brought them, it would have been a sad one for them throughout. Imagine the youngest one, he was acting as if he was sick before we came here, but the moment he got on that flying eagle toy and came down, he has acting as if he was not the sick boy at home earlier. I don't understand the secret of these play toys with children. They just make them happy and I feel happy when they are playing happily.

"We came all the way from Mararaba. Since we came, my mind has not been here. I just can't wait for us to go back home. I have spent at least N7, 000 so far. We paid N300 for gate tickets and we have been paying for playing and also eating."

However, commercial cab drivers besieged the area once it got slightly dark, because people who have no access to their private cars would have to pay exorbitant rates to be taken to their respective destinations or at least closer to town to continue from there.

Some of the cab drivers denied taking advantage of the approaching darkness. Instead they complained of the fuel scarcity in Abuja for the increased rate.

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