Race against time under Nigeria's curfews

The clock is ticking. Will I make it back to the hotel before 6pm - when the curfew starts?


    It's an odd feeling - living with a curfew.

    I am in Kano, in northern Nigeria. After protests over the removal of fuel subsidies turned violent, officials here declared a curfew from dawn to dusk.

    That means you have no business being on the street during those hours.

    So here we are (me and the colleagues I work with) trying to finish up some filming, we have a live crossing to do, an interview with a minister in an hour, and them somehow have to dash back to the safety of our hotel.

    It was a nightmare, but we make it just in time.

    My problems are minor compared to those who actually live here. I am just passing through.

    I went to the market in Kano, one of them anyway, and saw people trying to make a living.

    A butcher complained about the rise in prices of basic commodities and how the market is very quiet since the curfew was imposed.

    Everywhere I go someone tells me how quiet things are in Kano. I have to be honest, it does feel like a ghost town in some parts.

    People aren't going to work, protesting against the removal of fuel subsidies, the curfew has meant some choose to stay home for their safety - and some streets are deserted.

    I drove to Kano from Abuja on Thursday morning. I was glad to get out of the capital for a little bit. When we reached Kaduna we were stuck in a long queue of cars and lorries waiting to enter the town. 

    The army had closed off the road - there was a 24-hour curfew at the time.

    Using our press cards (those things are lifesavers) we cut to the front of the line and were let through.

    I got my first taste of what it really feels like to live with a curfew.

    There were checkpoints manned by police and soldiers every 300m. At every checkpoint I'm asked, "who are you, where are you going, do you know where you want to go is dangerous?"

    But everyone is very polite and lets the "crazy journalists" through.

    The city centre was dead - the odd goat here and there, one lone street begger roaming around - and that's that. The town had ground to a halt.

    But it seems people have become used to it. I confess I am getting used to it too. You just have to adapt. Before long, the road blockades, the soldiers holding guns on every street corner, the quiet dusty streets, become normal.

    Kano does not have a 24-hour curfew but everyone keeps looking at their watch. A 12-hour curfew is just as bad.

    I have 90 minutes to interview the Kano state governor, interview a family for a report I am compiling later this evening, and I have to factor in the time I will take to get back to my hotel.

    The governor is in a meeting - and I am waiting in his office.

    The clock is ticking. Will I make it back to the hotel before 6pm - when the curfew starts?



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