Come Tuesday and Wednesday, August 22 and 23rd, 2018, Muslim faithful in Nigeria will join their counterparts all over the world to celebrate this year’s Eid-el Kabir.
Already, the federal government has declared those two days public holidays to enable workers celebrate sallah with their loved ones.
Unsurprisingly, mini-ram markets have popped up in major cities and towns across the country to bring the livestock close to the celebrants.
LEADERSHIP Weekend findings show that although sallah is only few days away, the ambience does not reflect the upcoming celebration as traders and transporters, who mostly thrive during this period, have complained of low patronage, and this is despite a drop in the prices of foodstuff, rams and cows in the market.
In separate interviews with the traders, LEADERSHIP Weekend discovered that traders had not been receiving the anticipated patronage for such a festivity.
At Isolo Market in Oshodi/Isolo local council development area, Lagos State, a pepper trader who gave her name as Iya Quadri said that despite this time being a season in which there is increased pepper supply in the market, she and other vendors have been experiencing low patronage as Sallah celebration draws close.
She said, “As Sallah is fast approaching, prices of pepper has been okay but people are not coming out to buy things. But there is still time. It was the same thing last year; people are waiting for last-minute rush.”
Quadiri noted that prices were lower than last year in some commodities. According to her, a basket of red pepper which was sold for N35,000 last year now goes for N25,000 this year, while bell pepper went for N10,000 per sack last year compared to N6,500 per this year.
“While a basket of tomato was sold for N37,000, N35,000 and N30,000 depending on its species and size, we are now selling it at the rate of N30,000, N20,000 and N15,000,” she said, adding that a bag of rice which was sold at N15,000 last year now goes for N14,000.
However, despite the drop in prices, traders say their customers complain of scarcity of funds, which indicates that this year’s celebration would be on a much lower scale than that of last year.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, a foodstuff vendor who simply identified herself as Mrs. Adeyemi, disclosed that about a week to last year’s ‘Ileya’ festival, people had started buying bags of rice, groundnut oil and other storable foodstuff ahead of the festival.
She predicted that last year’s celebration would be better than this year’s as some of her customers had been complaining of lack of money to travel and buy foodstuff, especially rams.
“People have not been coming to buy in large quantities like they did last year,” she said. “About a week to Ileya last year, people had started to buy bags of rice for themselves and their relatives. As I’m speaking to you, some of my very good customers have come to meet me privately to tell me that they would be buying rice and oil on credit because they are not financially buoyant at the moment.
“Although some people complained of recession last year, I still believe that last year was a bit better. This year, there is no money. People are struggling to make ends meet. So many people are owing me money for foodstuff bought on credit,” she said.
Fashion designers on the other hand are not left out of the complaints of low patronage.
A fashion designer in Dopemu who pleaded for anonymity disclosed that despite the fact that people complained of economic recession last year, they were still able to buy clothes and sew them weeks before the festival, but that at the moment, very few of her customers had brought their clothes to be sewn.
“This year is different. Everywhere is just dry. A week or two to last year’s Ileya festival, people had started buying clothes and bringing them to me. This year, I’ve received just few clothes to be sewn. Even some of my customers that usually buy expensive lace materials and ankara are complaining that they don’t have money to buy clothes this year. Some of them even said they will wear the cloth they wore last year,” she said.
Another fashion designer who specialises in male clothing, Mr. Samson Ilori, also lamented the low patronage by customers. According to Ilori, most of his customers have been complaining of having difficulties in paying for food and house rent.
“I can’t force people to sew clothes,” he said. “Personally, this year, business hasn’t been the way it used to be in previous years. Some of my big customers who bring expensive clothes for me to sew for them have complained that their businesses are not going on well. I understand the situation of the country now, so I can’t blame them.
“This year is even worse than last year’s recession. Ileya is an interesting festival. Most people travel to their hometowns or buy rams for their parents but this year, there is no money to do that.
“The government said they recovered some money, let them pump these monies into all sectors so that people can do business. If my customer’s business is flourishing, he will be able to buy clothes for himself and his family members and bring them for me to sew. My business, too, will flourish through that.”
However, Alhaji Azeez Faronbi, a cow and ram dealer, is optimistic
that business activities will still pick up in the animal market
despite the low patronage that is being experienced. He noted that
compared to last year, livestock prices have dropped although it may pick up in line with demand as the celebration date approaches.
Comparing the cost of cow and ram this year with the price it was sold last year, Faronbi said that the price has been so good this year. “A
well-bred cow was sold for N450, 000 last year while we sell it at the rate of N350,000 this year. Customers can get a small cow as low as N90,000” he said, adding that ram on its part is expensive, as the prices range from as low as N32,000 to N200,000 for a full grown ram depending on the size.
According to him, “With this price range, we believe people will soon come out to buy. It does happen like this; in most festival periods like this, customers do come out and buy things a day to the celebration day.”
He attributed the low price of cow and ram to the present weather condition.
“We are in the rainy season, the cost of cow and ram is always low during the rainy seasons.”
An Islamic cleric, Lanre Yususf, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend, warned Muslims against obtaining loans to buy animals for the festivity, noting that Allah has not imposed on the believers’ tasks that are beyond their capacity. He added that God has not commanded His servants to kill animals during the festivity except those among them who have the resources to do so.
The cleric, who told the history of the celebration of the Eid-el Kabir Festival and the imperativeness of sacrificing animals, said Allah has nothing to do with the blood of slaughtered animals but the intentions of those making the offerings.
“Islam makes things simple for its adherents,’ the cleric said. “There
is no condition attached to what we are doing in our religion. Ileya (Eid festival) is around the corner. It is a common knowledge that Muslims are preparing to buy animals for sacrifice during the festival. We have been given prescription on how to go about it.
Almighty Allah has not conditioned us to sacrifice animals during the festival if we are not capable of doing it.
“What matters most is the intention behind whatever we do. There are instances that some people, all in the name of killing animals during the festival, will go as far as obtaining loans through the cooperative or bank. This is not acceptable. We should act within our means.
Meanwhile, transporters are gearing up for a rush hour which begin on Friday. Expectedly Muslim faithful will travel from one part of the country to another to mark the festival as many would prefer to travel home to celebrate with their families and loved ones.
Meanwhile, festive periods are reputed for slight increases in fares by commercial bus drivers.
By Wednesday August, 15, 2018, transport fare from Lagos to Abuja per passenger in a 22-seater bus and a Luxury bus remained at N6,000 and N8,100 respectively. Also, Lagos to Kaduna, Zaria and Kano attracted a flat rate of N7,500 and N9,550 per passenger in a small Toyota Hiace bus and Luxury buses respectively as obtained before the festive period. However, this could change when the festive day draws near.
Deputy director, Public Relations, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Mamood Yakub, noted that during festive periods like Eid-El-Kabir last year, there was slight increase in transport fare to Zaria from Lagos and this year cannot be an exception. He explained further that during the peak period of the Eid-el-Kabir on Sunday, transporters will no doubt increase fares on the pretext that there will only be few passengers during the return journey due to the festival.
A commercial bus driver who travels from Lagos to Abuja, Mr. Emmanuel Eze, pointed out that currently the fare from Lagos to Abuja is N6,000 but that by Friday this week the fare would be increased. While some are still seeking funds to transport themselves to their hometown, all is now set for the annual free train ride from Lagos to Oshogbo and back. The train was designated by Osun state government to convey indigenes of the state resident in Lagos to travel to their state to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir with their families and friends.
Yakub said, “The first train from Lagos will depart Iddo on August 19, 2018 and the second will depart Iddo on August 20, 2018”.
He, however, posited that only one of the passenger trains will return from Oshogbo to Lagos on August 26, this year.
To alleviate the scarcity of funds, some governors such as Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Kwara states have directed the payment August salaries to their workers to enable them meet up with their needs during the festive period.
Ogun State commissioner for finance, Mr. Adewale Oshinowo, in a statement released recently said the early payment of the salaries was another evidence of the government’s commitment towards ensuring the welfare of the workers, adding that the government would continue to ensure that it paid its workers’ salaries as, and when due.
The statement read partly, “This is yet another gesture of this government, to ensure that the workers are able to adequately prepare for the Eid celebrations. As a matter of fact, the government is only following its tradition of paying salaries of workers, early enough, for festival.”
The commissioner urged the workers to continue to reciprocate this with hard work and commitment to duty.
Also, Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, directed the state’s Ministry of Finance to commence the payment of August salary to workers in the state immediately. He stated that this should be complied with ahead of the Eid celebrations and before the release of federal allocations for August. He said the directive is to ensure that the workers enjoy the Sallah celebration. According to him, this testifies to the government’s commitment to the welfare of the people.
Abuja residents besiege markets in Niger State over prices
As part of preparations for Eid-el-Kabir celebration next week, rural markets around Niger State close to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have witnessed a surge in customers.
Findings by LEADERSHIP Weekend have revealed that not a few residents of Abuja took the advantage of their close proximity to these markets to buy basic needs as part of the preparations for the occasion.
A visit by our correspondent to Madalla market and Dikko market along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and the Maje and Lambatta markets on the Suleja-Minna road indicated a high flow of both human and vehicular movements.
Similarly, the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida market in the heart of Suleja is witnessing a high number of persons.
Alhaji Auwal Bichi, a resident of Abuja who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend at the Madalla market, said that seeking lower prices compelled him to drive 40km to Madalla from Abuja to buy ram and other food items.
“The prices here are pocket friendly. I was able to save over N100, 000 compared to what I spent last year in Abuja. You know how things are expensive in the city. We are many that made that trip here, it doesn’t cost much to come here,” he said.
Checks show that an average ram is sold for between N35, 000 to N40, 000 while some customers said last year, same size of ram was sold for N25, 000 to N30, 000.
Customers also said the prices of various weights of rice dropped compared to last year. 50kg of rice was sold at between N22, 000 to N25, 000 last year but are happy that it is being sold at N17, 500 and N18, 000. Also reduction was also seen in vegetable oil and others while the prices of perishables were on the high side.
However, the situation in the market did not dampen the high spirit of the people as they were enthusiastic about the celebration.
Slight Price Hike In Katsina Ahead of Sallah
Thousands of Katsina State residents are in high spirit already as Governor Aminu Bello Masari commenced payment of salary to the state and local government workforce since Thursday, 16th August.
Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend show a significant increase in traffic to Katsina Central Market as families of most civil servants thronged the major markets in festive mood even before Tuesday and Wednesday’s Sallah.
Looking at the prices of items in the market, Aliyu Abubakar, a civil servant, decried the increase in prices of food items and children clothes and women wrappers compared with their ruling prices about a forth night ago.
The prices of ram and cows in the animal market in Katsina metropolis show that a medium sized ram goes for about N150,000 to N250,000 while big ones go for about N300,000.
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