The downturn in the country’s economy has compelled Nigerians to resort to a low-key celebration for this year’s Eid-El-Kabir billed for Monday, LEADERSHIP Weekend checks have revealed.
Reports from our correspondents across the states of the federation show that from preparations for the Sallah, this year’s celebration will not be glamorous like those in previous years, as Nigerians who are unable to purchase the needed items have trimmed down their demands.
Unlike in past years when activities preceding Sallah celebrations, especially the Eid-Eil-Kabir, commence not less than three weeks to the festival, things have changed, following the economic recession confronting the nation which is equally taking its toll on Nigerians.
The situation, it was also gathered, is adversely affecting the economic fortune of beneficiaries of the Sallah celebrations, even as dealers in food stuff, Rams, textile materials, foot wears, among others are said to be experiencing low patronage.
Nigeria’s economy, like many others in the world is passing through tough times as a result of the global economic downturn.
The collapse of oil prices and activities of Niger Delta militants, as well as vandals have kept the country in a tight corner, making monetary obligation almost a nightmare for the citizenry.
Investigations by our correspondents further revealed that markets in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) that used to be beehives of commercial activities during festive periods like the Sallah celebrations, with the usual hustle and bustle, now wear a mournful look.
Dealers in food stuff, textile materials, wears, livestock among other things told our reporters that they are experiencing low patronage.
With relative peace gradually returning to some areas of Adamawa State that were ravaged by insurgency, this year’s Sallah is expected to be celebrated without rancour in towns and villages of the state.
The Adamawa State police command has assured that its men are ready to ensure a hitch-free Sallah celebration. The command’s Public Relations officer, Abuabakar Othman said, as usual, the command will send its men to various locations to man praying grounds across the state.
Our correspondent, however, reports that prices of items, including fresh tomatoes, pepper have plummeted, while that of ram, onions and vegetables have jumped in Adamawa and its environs due to economic recession facing the country. Traders in the state have lamented over low patronage in the markets, saying they are recording low sales.
The chairman of Jimeta Bye-pass cattle market in Yola, Alhaji Garba Jimo attributed the low patronage of customers to the decline in the economy. According to him, “prospective buyers usually besiege the market three to four days to Sallah but the volume of customers increases when civil servants are paid.
In the food basket of the nation, Benue State, the cost of purchasing commodities, including rams at this time is said to be outrageous and nearly impossible because the most important thing at the moment is how to feed and send children back to school.
“I don’t think people are concerned about the celebrations this yea. Focus is on the message behind the festival. Although we usually kill animals and share majorly to friends, family and the less privileged, the best we can do this year is pray for them”, said a Muslim faithful.
Preparations for this year’s Eid El Kabir can be felt all over Borno State, especially, the movement of rams in large numbers to all the nooks and crannies of the capital city of Maiduguri.
However, the peculiarity of this year’s sallah is that the biggest Muslim festival is occurring at a time when Boko Haram terrorists have crippled the economy of Borno, with the state government seeking for help from rich individuals and the international community,masking them to come to its assistance in resettling and feeding over two million citizens displaced from their various communities by the insurgents.
Another challengeconfronting the state that might hamper glamorous celebration of sallah this year is the issue of non payment of salaries of July and August to non verified workers whose data have not been captured in the biometric verification exercise embarked upon by the state government to fish out ghost workers in the Civil Service.
From all indications, the people of Kwara state will mark Eid-el- Kabir in a low-key, as the economic recession is biting harder in the state due to arrears of salaries owed some categories of workers in the state, especially local government employees.
Kwara being a core civil service state, whatever affects workers trickles down to the rest of the people. It is therefore not surprising that ram sellers in Ilorin, the state capital are complaining of low patronage by residents ahead of the Eid el- Kabir celebration.
Although spirited efforts are being made by the state government and relevant stakeholders to ensure a peaceful sallah celebration in the state. The Secretary to the state government, Isiaka Gold has assured the residents of adequate security before, during and after the festive period.
In Kogi State, the mood is not high in view of the present economic hardship as many people are disappointed that salaries were still being awaited without any hope of payment, at the time of this report.
This has drastically affected the market price of essential commodities needed for the Sallah period. The price of ram, inspite of the dwindling economy has refused to go down. Rather, it is said to have increased by 30 per cent.
At Okumi ram market located on the Lokoja/Abuja expressway, a dealer, Alhaji Shehu told our reporter that the cost of Ram has remained so because much expenses were incurred in the process of transporting them. It was also learnt that the price of tomatoes, pepper and other condiments have also increased due to non-existence of local production as a result of herdsmen attacks .
Unlike in the past when activities preceding sallah celebrations, especially the Eid-Eil-Kabir starts no fewer than three weeks before the festival, things have changed as the economic recession confronting the nation is taking its tolls on Nigerians. The situation has affected the economic fortune of people in the state, as dealers in food stuff, textile materials, foot wears, rams among others are experiencing low patronage.
According to Alhaja Kudirat Adiamo, a dealer in textile materials at Orisunbare market in Osogbo, though the increase in price is not astronomical, people are not just patronizing the market.
She attributed the low patronage to failure in prompt payment of workers salaries by government but expressed optimism that people will still come if government pays salaries before the celebration.
Alhaji Bello, a ram dealer at Iwo market, who expressed his sadness at the extremely low patronage by the people also noted that prices of commodities have gone up due to a lot of reasons. Bello noted that the size of a ram that sold for N40,000 last year has jumped to about N60,000.
But in the usual practice, the state government is expected to provide free train ride from Lagos to Osogbo to assist people transit home for the festival.
From available indications, this year’s sallah celebration may not come with the usual fan fair in Kaduna State, considering the harsh economic situation across the country.
Kaduna residents have lamented the spate of hardship they face in their preparations for the festive period, saying they have made adjustments to cope with the financial challenges.
Alhaji Danladi Abubakar said, “truly, things are very difficult; prices of food stuffs have gone high almost outside the reach of an ordinary citizen. Some of us cannot afford to purchase ram for sallah because the rams are very expensive and some of us have not been paid salaries.”
Meanwhile, prices of food stuff in the state have increased. Our correspondents report that Rice, depending on the variety is sold between N18,000 to N20,000 per 50kg bag; groundnut oil goes for N450 per bottle; palm oil is sold for N350 per bottle, while tomatoes goes for between N800- N3000 per basket accordingly.
The prices of rams also differ depending on the size. An average ram goes for N35,000, while those that are a little big range between N40,000-N120,000 and some as much as N150,000. Chicken is selling at between N1,800 and N2500 depending on the size and the specie.
On security arrangement, to ensure a hitch free festive period, the State Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) ASP Aliyu Usman said necessary measures have already been put in place to ensure that residents of the state and visitors alike have a peaceful sallah celebration.
As the preparation for Sallah celebration is on top gear, the popular Terminus market on Ahmadu Bello way and the new market in Plateau State that use to be full of activities are now almost deserted.
Our correspondent reports that this this year’s celebration will be low-key in view of the present economic realities, as prices of goods like Ram, Rice, Vegetable Oil, Cow Meat, Onions, Chicken and Tomatoes are on the high side.
For instance, kilo of beef which was sold for N1000 is now N1200, while a layer which was sold for N1000 now goes for N1300. Also, a bag of Rice which was hitherto sold for 19,000 now goes for N21,000, just as 10 tubers of Yam which was sold for N1500 is now sold for N2000.
The security situation in the state appears shaky as already, the Ahmadu Bello way and Terminus round about market have been closed down by the state government due to congestion in the areas, for fear that terrorist may use the opportunity to strike.
The Plateau State government has set up a special task force to clear all traders from the street along the ever busy market to forestall any security breach.
In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, there seems not to be any meaningful preparation by Muslim faithful ahead of the Sallah celebration, a development which is not unconnected to the present economic situation in the country.
A survey carried out by LEADERSHIP Weekend at the Rumuwoji (Mile One) Market and the New Layout Market, all in Port Harcourt City local government area revealed a sharp rise in the prices of foodstuff.
It was observed that a bag of rice is sold at N18,500, a tuber of yam is now sold N150 and Irish potatoes go for N13,000 to N15,000 depending on the size of the bag, with potatoes going for N 3,500 to N5000 per bag.
Also, a bag of onion is selling for between N17,000 and N20,000; fresh pepper goes for N2,500 per bag, while a full grown ram sells between N70,000 and N150,000.
The Deputy Chief Imam of Mile One Central Mosque, Port Harcourt, Alhaji Bamidele Muritala Suleiman, said he does not expect this year’s Sallah celebration to be as glamorous as those in the past because there is no money for people to the needed purchase items.
However, the Rivers State Police Command has expressed its readiness to ensure that lives and properties are protected before, during and after the Sallah celebration.
Many Muslim families in Kebbi State are really finding it difficult to meet up with one of the important ‘Sunnah ‘of the prophet Muhammad (SAW), which is buying of ram for religious sacrifice on Sallah day.
In Kebbi State, the mood depicts a celebration that would not too ceremonious compared to those of previous years. Many families are said to be in dilemma as to whether to use the little money they have to purchase food stuff or buy rams for the Sallah.
A visit to some markets in the state reveal that prices of rams and other animals have crashed as a result of low patronage. Abdullahi MaiRago, the overseer of the livestock market in Birnin Kebbi, attributed the low patronage and falling prices of ram to lack of money.
In Ondo State, the economic hardship in the country is the same situation currently affecting the preparation for this year’s Sallah.
This year’s celebration will definitely not be the same with the previous ones as a result of high prices of foodstuffs and livestock in the market. Muslims faithful are facing so much difficulty in getting rams and foodstuffs for the celebration.
A visit to Mojere and Shasha ram markets in Akure, the state capital shows that only few customers were seen trying to purchase the animals. The least of ram in the state is currently sold at between N45,000 and N50,000 in the state. Some of the customers who spoke to our reporter said the prices are high due to lack of money.
Muslims in Ekiti State, like others across the country, are not left out in the preparations for the Eid-El- Kabir celebration. No doubt, the preparations for the annual religious event generally is at its lowest ebb, as the people still try to put things together within their limited resources.
Mr Dauda Adeola told our correspondent that life generally has not been easy. “The Sallah celebration is around the corner, but many people cannot get what they would love to have due to high cost of living. Food items are very costly these days. No new clothes, shoes and others like before; the focus now is on how to get money to feed my family”, he said.
Generally, the mood in Ogun State does not indicate that a major festival is taking place days away. The usual fan fare heralding the festival like ram fight contests at different locations are not taking place and the number of rams on display are far from the normal compared to past festivals.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, prices of basic food items like rice, beans, gari and ingredients like pepper, palm oil, vegetable oil, tomatoes and other condiments have gone up as the nation gets set for Eidel-kabir.
A visit to major markets of Kuto and Lafenwa revealed that commercial activities are low. According to Mrs Foluke Oke, the situation is directly connected with the economic downturn in the country. She said prices of goods have already gone up long before the coming festival.
Passing through the streets of Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, one would immediately notice a sharp contrast in the buildup to Sallah festivity from what obtained in the past and the reason is not farfetched- cash crunch.
In the past, the popular Jos and Makurdi roads were overtaken with rams a month to Sallah celebration, as sellers and buyers turned the roadsides into makeshift markets where rams from as far as Adamawa and Borno States were brought in their thousands for sale.
When our reporter went round Lafia, the story was different as only one ram seller, Mallam Shehu, was seen displaying less than ten rams for sell.
He said previously, his customers, mostly politicians, placed orders for hundreds of rams for distribution to their constituents and the less privileged but this year, those who dared to buy bought for their immediate families. It is also the same with virtually every commodity, from fabrics, rice to spices at the Lafia modern market and Shinge cattle markets.
The general atmosphere is enveloped in depression as no form of social activity is also being organized to mark the day, even though the state capital hosts three higher institutions of learning and diverse cultures with adherents of Islam who might want to celebrate the Holy day.
To compound the problem, there is trepidation among workers over uncertainty regarding their salaries, as negotiations between labor and government is still ongoing.
Findings reveal that the economic recession has affected the purchasing power hence there is low patronage in markets in Niger State, which invariably will in anticipation affect the way the celebration will be in terms of glamour.
Notwithstanding the harsh economic situation, security of lives and property is guaranteed as the state police command had, over the week, released the modalities for policing the state with combine efforts by other security agencies.
But ahead of the Eid-el- kabir celebration the prices of items in Niger State were relatively high as at this week, apart from the fact that most civil servants were yet to collect their August salary because of the ongoing screening by the organized labour and government to fish out ghost workers.
The general views of the people in Kano State past celebrations were glamorous compared this year’s Sallah in terms of economic stability and money which is not circulating among the citizens.
As the Sallah (EidelKabir) is just a day ahead, the prices of essential commodities needed for the celebration have plummeted, even as paucity of funds and the falling economy has significantly affected many indigenes of the state.
Chairman of Singer market, a famous market for varieties of foodstuffs, cosmetics and general commodities, Uba Zubairu Yakasai disclosed that market which has a trade volume size of N600 million daily now has an average of N120 million daily.
As the preparation for Sallah reaches its peak, children in the seat of the caliphate have lamented their woes, stating that if wishes could turn things around, they would have asked for more days or months for the Sallah celebration.
Reasons for their prayers is not simply because their parents were unable to buy them the usual new clothes, but for some, even playing with the ram to be slaughtered is not feasible as their parents are yet to buy any, few days to the Sallah, unlike before.
They wonder whether this Sallah is the same with that of last year, as the atmosphere seems unusual. The story line, even among sellers of ram, is not any different, as they complain bitterly of poor patronage.
Though Eid-El Kabir is a very great festival in the Muslim faith which is well celebrated by adherents of the religion, the hope of celebrating the 2016 islamic festival in Sokoto with the usual fanfare seemed to have been dampened by the current economic recession in the country.
The reality on ground in Lagos State tacitly suggests that the current insecurity in the state manifesting in kidnapping, militancy and other sundry crimes aggravated by the prevailing economic downturn rocking the country may rob the people of the joy of this year’s sallah celebration.
Muslim faithfuls who spoke with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND in the state at separate interviews lamented that the prices of food stuff and Ram in the market that had gone through the roof herald a bleak sallah celebration for them.
Ironically, some maintained that irrespective of the abject poverty in the country they will extend the spiritual benefits of the feast which includes sharing more than half of the Rams to your neighbours. To their chagrins politicians and even the Lagos State Government that normally give out Rams to them to celebrate Sallah is indifferent this year.
Agbola Monsuruden, a devout Muslims said, f”Frst of all I want to thank almighty Allah the most beneficent, most merciful for the gift of life. Things are not alright in the country right now. Times are hard. The 2016 Sallah will be marked in my home as a very personal affair, unlike before that I used to move about with my family and give our alms to the less privileged.
Security is beefed up around the FCT, but the markets and other commercial places are seemingly not bubbling due to complaints from people over lack of money. Many of the inhabitants of Abuja have travelled out of the city, probably to enjoy the periods with their family members.
The stories are all the same, from the ever busy Wuse Market in the heart of the FCT to the everyday Wednesday Nyanya Market and the ever busy and popular Mararaba Market in the outskirt of the FCT, traders, like shoppers, lament over the same predicament centred on skyrocketed commodity prices, inadequate cash for purchase, frustration and uncertainty.
A visit to these three markets, created an opportunity to share the experiences of average Nigerian shoppers.
The force public relations officer, FPRO, ACP Don Awunah has assured that the force is evenly prepared to avert any breach of law and order. He said lives and properties will be adequately protected and appealed to residents to be law abiding.
Political Leaders Also Feel The Pain Of Recession – Saraki
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki said yesterday that he and other political leaders in the country are also feeling the pain inflicted on Nigerians by the current economic recession.
He, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria will overcome the present economic recession.
Speaking to State House correspondents shortly after observing the Friday Juma’at Prayer with President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, Saraki said with the cooperation and support of everyone, the country would overcome the challenge.
While urging all Nigerians to continue to pray for the success of the government, he wished Nigerians, especially the Muslim faithful, a happy Sallah celebrations.
He also assured that once the Senate resumes from its two months recess, they will continue to play their own role to ensure that things get better.
The Senate President said, “Once again, as a country in this period, we will continue to pray. On Sunday, the day of Arafat, we offer prayers for our leaders and the President so that we can do what is right, because we feel the pain.
“We know what the country is going through because there is no Nigerian with blood flowing through his veins that will not know that things are difficult now; and we pray that with God’s guidance, He will see us through.”
Promising Nigerians that with their support, the country would overcome all its problems, Saraki said, “With prayer, Insha Allahu, we will overcome it (economic recession). The most important thing is for us to stay together and give the President support and continue to believe in this great country that we all have and be rest assured that we will all weather the storm and scale through together.”