Central mosque – the unifying place of worship for Islamic adherents is the
cynosure of all eyes in Abuja – just like its Christianity counterpart: the National Ecumenical Centre, renamed National Christian Centre by the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo government. But beyond serving as the Muslims focal worship centre, central Mosque draws Muslims, Christians and adherents of other faiths to its vicinity every Friday. For mercantile purpose.
As early as 6.00 am, in the very twilight of the Muslims’ holy day -Friday, traders from within and outside the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially from neighbouring States of Nasarawa, Kaduna, Niger, Kogi and as far Kano converge at the mosque’s neighbourhood to dispose of their wares and other items.
On a typical Friday, the traders line up their items from the main entrance (gate) of the Mosque, along the road sides leading to the mosque. And would remain there till sunset. Business transaction at the Central mosque road side unifying market starts even before Muslim ‘faithfuls’ start converging for worship, which normally starts at about 2pm. It continues unbated while the worship lasts, and drags on even after the “faithfuls” disperse from the mosque to their various places of abode.
What began like a child play, evidently during the Chief Obasanjo era, with a handful of traders displaying few wares to test the efficacy of sales has now grown to a large-scale market, acknowledged throughout the length and breath of Abuja and beyond, as Abuja’s one-stop-market.
Beyond the quality of wares and products displayed at the weekly market, one point of attraction to the market is the cheapness of the items. It provides a reprieve and relief to Abuja residents who basked daily in the exorbitant price of goods at theAbuja Main Ultra-Modern market – Wuse market.
In comparism, Wuse is a market that holds residents at the throat; at the jugular, making them to gasp for financial breath each time they go to the market even for food items. So residents see the central mosque market as a big relief as most of the traders, especially those from the Northern part of the country sell their items at what is generally perceived as give-away price!
Yes, trust the ubiquitous, peripatetic itinerant and highly mercantile Ibo traders. They’ve besieged the market with their wares, and almost displacing the original “owners” of the market with their numbers.
Trust the Ibos; first it was one or two traders who displayed their wares far away from the gate of the mosque where Muslims displayed theirs; then two, three and four others joined; now the number of Ibo traders at the weekly market has grown astronomically – with some selling now close to the gate of the mosque, having conquered the initial fear of a possible Jihad’ that might erupt as a result of their presence, a Jihad that could consume them – they being ‘infidels’ in Islam’s judgment.
It is unthinkable that the authority in the FCT allow this but there lies the truth – they not only allow their fellow Muslims but also Christians to do their businesses there.
The market is so popular in the nation’s capital and beyond that it takes some residents seven days to start preparing to go and buy things from the road- side market. Even Nigerians from adjourning states of Nassawa, Niger, Kaduna and Kogi patronise the market. Wares items displayed range from lace materials, prints, and Nigerian wax to pure Gold, trousers, shirts, native wares, shoes, belts and food.
When The Tide On Sunday visited the market last Friday, hundreds of Nigerians and foreigners were seen buying and selling. One of the traders, Mallam Mohammed Bako from Kano told The Tide On Sunday, “I come from Kano every Friday to sell at central Mosque. The market is good. Abuja people buy plenty market from me and I make big money , “(laughter).
Even some Yoruba traders are also there but the number of Hausa/Fulani and Ibos greatly out-number them. Infact aside providing succor to buyers, the Central Mosque weekly market is gradually becoming a” rallying-point for Nigerian unity – especially for adherents of the two leading religions in the country – Christianity and Islamic.
It may be argued that faithfuls of the two leading religions in the country also sell in other markets across the country -while that is veracious, the uniqueness of the central Mosque market lies in the fact that it is carried out right at the foot of what is conceived the number one worship centre of Nigerian Muslims and indeed at a time that worship and prayers are going on in the Mosque.
Justus Awaji, Abuja