The way the last Eid-El – Kabir was celebrated by Muslim faithfuls in Lagos and South- West States suggest that poverty caused by the current economic recession rocking the country is fast taking its roots in many households, making it impossible for them to perform their religious rites, GEORGE OKOJIE reports.
On September 12th 2016, Nigerian Muslims joined their counterparts across the globe to celebrate this year’s Eid-el- Kabir as scheduled, irrespective of the economic situation in the country.
Though the narrative of the Islamic festival celebration in Lagos and South-West states of the country was melancholic, adherents of the faith were not surprised because bleak Sallah celebration had stared them in the face before the feast. But as Nigerians, being special people they invoked that resilient, determined Nigerian spirit in them to make themselves happy.
Not dampened by the current economic reality in the country, Muslim faithfuls in Lagos and some South- West states monitored by our correspondent were seen gorgeously dressed as they stormed their various prayer grounds to offer prayers and demonstrate their tenacity to the worship of Allah.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND findings in Lagos and Ogun States communities showed that many Muslim faithfuls who could not afford to buy Ram which is conventional for performing the religious rites of the feast contributed money to buy cow and shared its among themselves to cook and celebrate in their homes.
They lamented that due to the prevailing hardship in the country, they could not afford to buy rams to perform the religious rites, even as the grieved that the high cost of foodstuff and other basic necessities had gone beyond their reach.
Like Mallam Ado Hamisu said, “Yes times are hard but we should not allow the hardship in the country to take away our willingness to sacrifice for one another and to live in peace with one another.
“What is happening is all over, the harsh economic situation right now Nigeria is not a joke. I could not afford to buy Ram for Sallah again the price of ram is too expensive. In Kara market along Lagos-Ibadan expressway a ram costs between N50,000 to N150,000 depending on the size. I don’t have money buy Ram.
“To make sure my family cook and we celebrate sallah I combined with my friends and neighbours and we bought cow. We thank Allah for preserving our lives. This thing has not happened to me before that I cannot buy Ram. Business is dull, no money I am gradually spending my capital. So to go ahead and say I must slaughter Ram for Ileya was not too good decision to me.”
Alhaja Bisi Tajudeen, who lives in Akute, Ogun State said because times are hard and her husband had no money and they drew a scale of preference thereby deciding to give priority attention to school fees over buying of Ram for the festival.
She said, “There is no money. People are suffering, nobody to run to everybody is complaining. You can see that even the politicians who used to flood the market during the Sallah period are nowhere to be found. They too are feeling the pinch.
“The type of Ram we normally buy for the Sallah this year when we went to Ram market cost as much as N120,000. We are already in September and schools will be resuming soon, school fees of children are there. It is better we celebrate in small way and still have the money to pay our children’s school fees when they are going back to school.”
A top civil servant in Lagos State who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said, “the current economic recession made it difficult for him to fulfill the obligation of slaughtering Ram. Many of us used to rely on state government to get Rams. The state government is not owing staff salary but this time around I had spent the money on other pressing needs and the date for the Sallah is just in between. I could not buy Ram.
“What is happened this year is unbelievable. From the days of military governors Lagos State Government gives out Rams. The present administration last year gave people but for it not to give this year, it means something is amiss and the bug of economic recession officially admitted by the Federal Government has adversely infested the Lagos State Government too.”
Many other who spoke with our correspondent lamented the economic recession in the country but seemed to have found solace in the fact that Sallah Ram slaughtering is not obligatory for the Islamic festival.
Throwing light on this an Islamic Scholar, Imam Abdulhameed Shuaib Agaka said the slaughtering of livestock especially, rams during Islamic festivity of Eid-Adha is not compulsory according to Islamic injunctions.
Agaka said, “Considering the current economic situation, Muslims should prioritize their need and ensure they provide basic necessities for the family, especially accommodation, feeding, medication, education and mobility.
It is after meeting the basic essentials that surplus income could be utilise for Sallah ram and other celebrations.”
Citing verses from the Holy Quran, he posited that, “ Almighty Allah does not place burden on a person beyond his ability in any situation. The ceremony is symbolic in exemplifying the absolute submission of Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail to the will of God. The essence therefore is to be obedient to Almighty God, live peaceful with our neighbours including those that we don’t share the same tribe, culture or religion and pray for our country.”
Although many well to do adherents of the religion may have disappointed their brethrens this year due to economic recession, he explained that under normal circumstances those that can afford Sallah Rams, are expected to follow the principle of Zakat.
According to him, Zakat stipulates that the ram should be shared into three parts. “The first part is meant for the family, second part should be given as Zakat (gift) to the neighbours including Non-Muslims and Muslims that could not afford it and the last part for the less privilege in the society.”
Generally LEADERSHIP WEEKEND observed that this year’s Sallah celebration was devoid of the usual fanfare as turnout of fun seekers to the park was low compared to previous year when lots of people trooped to amusement parks to have fun with their families.
A fun seeker, Abdulrahman Kunle told our correspondent in Marwa garden in Lagos that, ” this year’s celebration is low-key. People have no means to celebrate. The economy is bad, no money in circulation.
“Last year this place was filled a lot of people came here to have fun, but this year the reverse is the case, seeing is believing , you can see it yourself. I am here with my wife and son because we must thank God for everything; while we pray and hope that things get better for the country.”
Other locations in the state like the Badagry Heritage Museum, the first storey building in Nigeria, Seriki Abass Museum and the Vkelete Slave Market had low patronage too.
According to tour guide, Mr. Anago James the low turnout of tourists to the location was due economic recession rocking the country.
He told journalists that visited the historical site that, “The economic recession in the country has caused low patronage of tour sites in Badagry and this is having a negative effect on tourism here.
Although this year’s Eid-El –kabir celebration may have come and gone, hope many people professed is the last thing. To this end, it is the wish of many Nigerians that the nation finds solution to its ailing economy and rescues its people from the current difficult and challenging environment.