President Muhammadu Buhari will be conducting his Eid prayers with his family at home to mark this year’s Eid-el-Fitr celebrations following the month-long Ramadan fast, the presidency announced yesterday.
Also, unlike it has been the tradition for the FCT minister to lead top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children to pay the president Sallah homage, President Buhari said he will not be receiving anybody this year as part of the effort to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading further.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the decision by the president not to entertain visitors was in observance of the lockdown measures in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, put in place “to save lives and protect people from all dangers”.
Shehu noted: “This is also in line with the directive of the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III suspending Eid congregational prayers across the country as well as the protocol against mass gathering issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“Further to this, the President who has traditionally shared the joyous moment with top government officials, political leaders, community heads, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and children, will not be receiving these homages in a bid to stop the coronavirus from further spreading.
Fasting Continues Today, Sallah Holds Tomorrow
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III yesterday urged Muslims to continue the Ramadan fast today since the new moon of Shawwal 1414 AH had not been sighted anywhere across the country.
A statement signed by chairman, advisory committee on Religious Affairs, in the Sultnate Council, Prof Sambo Wali Junaidu, noted that Sunday May 24, 2020 would now be the first day of Shawwal 1414 AH.
The statement noted: “The Sultanate Council Advisory Committee on Religious Affairs in conjunction with the National Moon Sighting Comitteendis not receive any report from various Moon Sighting Committee across the country confirming the sighting of the New Moon of Shawaal 1414 AH on Friday, 22 May, 2020 which was the 29th day of Ramadan 1414AH. Therefore, Saturday, 23rd, May, 2020 is the 30th day of the month of Ramadan 1414AH.
“His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar CFR, , mni, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has accepted the report and accordingly declared Sunday, 24th May, 2020 as the first day of Shawwal 1414 AH (Day of Eid-El-Fitr).
“The Sultan of Sokoto felicitates with Nigeria Muslims Ummah and wishes them Allah’s guidance and blessings”.
The respected religious and traditional leader further admonished Muslims to continue round pray for peace and progress in Nigeria and the world over
Illegal Motor Packs Boom As Transport Fare, Foodstuff Prices Soar
Ahead of the Eid-el-Kabir festival now rescheduled for tomorrow, the emergence of illegal motor parks has spiked transport fares just as prices of some basic food items have increased between five to 10 per cent in some markets in the country.
A survey conducted by LEADERSHIP Sunday across the country revealed that many of the Muslim faithful did not travel to their homes for Sallah due to the hike in transport fares occasioned by restrictions, especially the interstate lockdown and curfew, imposed to curtail theb spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from the restriction of interstate movement, both human and vehicular, preparations for Sallah celebrations is also responsible for the soaring prices of food items and livestock.
At the illegal motor parks created by motor park touts to beat security operatives deployed to enforce the lockdown order, passengers now pay double the amount of transport fares if not more.
Some Nigerians who spoke with our correspondents decried the situation, saying with about 100 per cent increase in the cost of transportation there is no hope of travelling to their home states for the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.
At Terminus and Bukuru markets in Jos, Plateau State, investigations showed that transport fares increased even though motor parks are devoid of the usual crowd associated with festivities such as the Sallah celebration in the state.
At the NTA motor park in Jos, it was observed that all protocols associated with COVID-19, including ensuring that passengers put on facemasks, wash their hands and apply sanitiser before entering the park as well as observe social distancing were being.
But transport fare had been increased because instead of accommodating six passengers for Opel Saloon cars, drivers now carry three passengers in line with social distancing rules.
Also, with the rising prices of foodstuff and other commodities in the state, a bag of foreign rice now sells at N26,000 instead of N22,000 it was pegged at, just as the big swan bottle of vegetable oil which hitherto was sold for N800 now goes for N1000.
Similarly, layers which was sold for N1500 now sells between N1800 to N2000, while the small broilers are said to be sold at N2500 to N3000 and a kilo of beef sold for N1200 now goes for N1500.
In Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, prices of foodstuff have been reviewed upward by the marketers.
It was learnt that prices of grains, especially rice, beans and millet/ maize have increased by 25 per cent.
The increase in the cost of foodstuff is attributed to the Sallah celebration.
A foodstuff seller, Alh Yinka Yerro blamed the increment on the ban on inter-local government travels by the state government, lamenting that they find it difficult to restock.
A resident, Hajia Kemi Alaro, who confirmed the rise in the cost of foodstuff, said a bag of rice which sold N18,000 now goes for N24,000, while a bag of beans which previously sold for N14,500 now goes for N18,000.
The rising cost of transportation, according to motorists in the state, was hiked because of the COVID-19 protocols which pegged a vehicle’s carrying capacity at half.
The transporters now heap the burden of paying double of the normal transportation cost on the passengers.
There is strict monitoring of the ban on inter-local government and inter- state travels in the state, as major motor parks in Ilorin had remained closed.
Preparations for the Sallah celebration is also low in Rivers State. The development is no unconnected to the closure of markets, motor-parks and other public places in the state, coupled with the nationwide ban on interstate vehicular movement due to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic.
Enquiries made by LEADERSHIP Weekend in shopping malls, supermarkets and small shops in Port Harcourt showed prices of food stuff however remained the same due to low patronage.
At the Hausa Line in Old Port Harcourt Township where most Northern travellers board vehicles to travel to the North, there were only few trucks and buses with no passengers.
Driver of one of the trucks, Zaiyyanu Yahaya, said restrictions at the various interstate boundaries are responsible for the scanty movement of people out of Rivers State for the Sallah celebration.
While Muslim faithful in Ekiti, like their counterparts in other states of the federation, are preparing for the Eid-El-Fitr celebrations, they are contending with the soaring price of food items and other commodities.
Prices of goods have skyrocketed and have remained the same since March ending when the state government declared the first 14-day total lockdown to halt the spread of Coronavirus.
Pepper that was sold at N50 is now N100, while tomato has increased from N100 to N200. A mudu of of local rice has risen from N500 to N700, while foreign rice has also shot up from N700 to N1000.
A rubber of garri sold for N120 is now N200; a bowl of yam powder has increased from N1500 to N2400, while one kilo of meat has risen from N1200 to N1500.
Transport fare within the state has not really changed except for commercial motorcyclists charge double of what they used to take before the lockdown.
Because of the ban on the interstate travels and movement, there were no business activity at all major motor parks visited by our correspondent in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
A transporter who craved anonymity said intending travellers could still be moved to their respective destinations very early in morning if they were ready to cough out huge transport fare since they carry few people in to observe social distancing.
Muslim faithful in Anambra state said that they would be celebrating this year’s Eid-El-Fitr in a low key due to the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
Some of them who spoke to LEADERSHIP in Awka, the state capital, said they were complying with the directives of the state and federal governments on restriction to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as the instructions of their Muslim leader, President-general of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III on this year’s Eid-El-Fitr celebration.
They also complained of increase in the prices of food items, stating that the development has also contributed to their decision to mark this year’s Sallah festival in a low key.
Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in South East zone, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, said he had gone round virtually all major communities in the zone to sensitise his members to adhere strictly to all government-prescribed measures for control of the spread of Coronavirus, including wearing of facemasks, maintenance of social distancing, regular washing of hands and ban on interstate travels.
He expressed gratitude that relative peace currently exists between his cattle breeders and people of their host communities across the zone.
Siddiki said, “We, members of Miyetti Allah cattle rearers in South East zone are not traveling out to the North to celebrate this Sallah because of the interstate border closure by the government. So, all of us are staying in our respective communities to celebrate this Eid-Ed-Fitr”.
According to him, a cow that was earlier sold at N100,000 is now sold at N120,000, while a ram that usually cost N30,000 now sells for between N40,000 and N45,000.
Also speaking, Mallam Musa Abudullahi, a cattle dealer from Bauchi State lamented the increase in prices of food stuff, stating that a measure of rice sold at N1,200 was now N1,700, while a tuber of yam which was purchased at N500 now costs between N800 and N850.
Gidado Aliyu, an Awka-based businessman, lamented that he and his co-Muslims were marking the Sallah without observing the Eid prayers at their temporary Eid praying ground opposite the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia.
“What I will do is that I will stay in my house with members of my family to celebrate Sallah and say my prayers for our neighbours and our nation, Nigeria, so that the Almighty Allah will intervene in the many problems in this country and give us a better country where all of us will be living with love for one another”, he stated.
In the same vein, Mallam Musa Saneh from Mayobelwa area of Adamawa State stated that this is the first time he was celebrating Sallah outside his Mayobelwa native home in Adamawa state since the past ten years, and without members of his family.
In Oyo State, a Muslim, Adewale Tajudeen, who claimed he had been travelling to Ekiti State for the celebration for the past 15 years, said it would difficult, if not impossible, to undertake such journey, especially with the current situation.
Noting that business had not been as usual, he said paying 100 per cent of what he usually paid for transportation might not be possible.
Another respondent, Akeem Olajide, a transporter, said that the hike in transport fare was not enough to complain when one considers the risk involved.
On prices of goods, he said for instance a motor battery sold between N14,000 and N15,000 now costs between N20,000 and N22,000, while a tyre of N22,000 now costs between N28,000 and N30,000.
An Igbo trader, who pleaded anonymity attributed the high cost of transportation to the ban on interstate movement which he said did not allow them to stock their stores with new commodities.
In Ondo State, a trader, Mrs Jejelowo Elisabeth noted that before getting goods from Onistha, it is always through black market by drivers who charge exorbitantly under the guise that they would bribe security agents at road blocks.
A transporter, Amodu Aliu, from Arigidi Akoko Northwest local government area of Ondo State appealed to the government to relax the interstate travel ban and give motorists precautionary measures against the spread of the virus.
In Osun State, the annual Eid-Eil-Fitri festival marked by Muslims across the globe to mark the end of Ramadan will be celebrated low keyed this year.
Osun State government had imposed a total lockdown in the state to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world.
Unlike the situation in the past when the festival used to be celebrated with pomp and pageantry, restrictions in movement has adversely affected mobility thereby preventing visitors that could have added to financial commitment of households.
Because of ban on inter -state journey, the usual hustling and bustling that used to characterized Sallah celebration at motor parks was at the lowest ebb, while transport fare has increased.
Prices of food stuffs in Delta State have remained relatively stable since they experienced a sharp increase following the first two weeks of lockdown ordered by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in April.
Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend indicate that prices of most foodstuffs have remained relatively the same after the initial sharp increase occasioned by the panic caused by the lockdown.