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Celebrating Sallah COVID-19 Way



Coronavirus pandemic has seriously affected countries across the world to include Nigeria. While the social distancing rule, now in place to curb the spread of the virus, ensured that Eid prayers were outrightly banned or partially observed, the harsh economic reality affected the financial capability of Muslim faithfuls to purchase the needed items to mark the festivity. SAMUEL ABULUDE, KEHINDE SALLAH, DUSTAN AGHEDO and OLUWAFEMI OLUFISOYE report.

Celebration, by its nature, comes with fun-fare, frivolity and merriment, while congregating to thank God for sparing one’s life till that moment.  Sallah is not anything different as Muslim faithful congregate on Eid day to thank and praise Allah for his mercies on them. Asides this, there is also the usual sacrifice of killing of ram on Sallah day to make the day a fun-filled one.

But this year, Eid el-Kabir was different from the previous ones because of the threatening coronavirus that has infected over 38,000 Nigerians, crippled the nation’s economy and made most Nigerians incapacitated to meet their financial and social needs.

While the rule of social distancing as a way to curb the spread of the virus, means Eid prayer is cancelled or forbidden for now, the harsh economy affected some Muslim faithful financially to the extent that they cannot perform their annual sacrifice of slaughtering rams.

Investigation by our correspondents revealed that the celebration was done on  low key as people tried to manage the little fund they have for Sallah, even as the price of goods and food stuff hit roof top.

In the survey conducted, LEADERSHIP Sunday noticed an increase in the prices of foodstuffs due to the festivity.

A large basket of tomatoes goes for N40,000 from N15,000, a basket of red pepper for N20,000 to N25,000 from N15,000, a basket of bell pepper for N20,000, and a sack of onion now goes for N30,000 from N12,000.

At the frozen food stalls, a carton of turkey goes for N15,000 from N14,000, Normal chicken for N14,000 from N12,000, Orobo Chicken for N12,500 and 50kg foreign rice for N27,000.

Speaking to our correspondent, Alhaji Audu disclosed that the upsurge in the price of rams and cattle is as a result of the cost of transporting the animals from the northern part of the country to the western part due to the hike induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He explained that due to the economic situation in the country, ram sellers are finding it difficult to transport many Rams/Cows to South West here and that even the ones they are able to bring for sale are not getting buyers, saying, the sales this year cannot be compared to last year or the previous year because there is no money in the country.

At banks, such as, Stanbic IBTC, Zenith Bank, First Bank, GT bank, UBA, along Idiroko road, Ota, our reporter was met with a heavy queue as residents adhered to little or no social distancing as they struggled to make withdrawals.

On the directive of the federal government for worshippers to celebrate at home, a student, Omolara Akindele, who said her family would be celebrating moderately, commended the Federal Government, stating that, what is paramount is his intention because Allah looks at the heart. She advised Muslim faithfuls to try and be obedient and celebrate at home for the sake of their health.

A resident in Lagos speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday expressed that due to the COVID-19 the celebration is now “somehow” dull. Food stuffs, she said, were especially expensive.

“Those that want to do a proper celebration will still go ahead and do so, not minding the prices since they all range in sizes and prices (talking about the ram purchase). You can see the one of N50,000, N60,000 to even N80,000 depending on its size. Did my family buy ram however? No,” she said.

Another woman, Wuraola Ajayi, said the Sallah would be celebrated within the family and neighbourhood because of the pandemic.

She also decried the cost of goods which rose significantly because of the pandemic, noting that, this led to a ram, previously being sold at N60,000, now at N80,000.

Another resident who simply wanted to be identified as Mr Hassan said that he would be at home with his family and pray, as he bemoaned hike in transportation fee.

He said, “Praying at home has been part of us since the lockdown and we have adapted easily to that. About travelling, I can guarantee that one is even more on a high. Any traveller would be spending more than expected for transport. I travelled this week on Tuesday from Abeokuta to Lagos and the transportation fee has been hiked.

A virologist, Ahmed Iluoreh Jnr, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that although over the years, he had to spend the Sallah festivity with his family and friends, this year’s sallah was however different as he would most likely be in the laboratory.

According to him, “I am doing Sallah on my own, alone. Probably in the lab working to save humanity.”

Musicians and entertainers who are already bemoaning their fate having not earned wages in live performances since the month of March when the lockdown was introduced in Lagos and other states including the F.C.T.

The Ileya festival which normally comes with different performances of Fuji musicians in the south Western states wont hold. Also due to the ban of public gatherings in most states, Lagos and Ogun State inclusive, the public parks will remain closed as faithfuls have been directed to pray and celebrate indoors.

In a phone chat with veteran actor, Adebayo Salami popularly known as Oga Bello, he noted that the celebration will be low-key for him and his family as they give thanks to Allah for sustenance of their health. “We thank Allah the merciful and the benevolent. We shall celebrate this year festival indoors. Our health is important, and we pray to celebrate more in the following years. I have been coping and Allah has been taking care of us. As usual we will kill our rams and celebrate. We won’t forget the needy as we always do,” he said.