A dour Eid-el-Kabri celebration
Abuja residents abandon fun spots as economy bites harder
10 persons feared dead on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway
The recession in the country, notwithstanding, many Muslim faithful yesterday still turned out gaily dressed for the Eid-el-Kabri celebrations, for which the Federal Government had declared yesterday and today as public holidays.
But that did not mask the harsh economic situation which drastically reduced the usually teeming crowd of fun seekers at relaxation and recreation spots, not only in the Federal Capital, Abuja but also in Lagos and other state capitals.
It however did not affect their piety as adherents trooped out as early as 7.00a.m. for the nearest praying ground in their neighbourhood to offer prayers to Almighty Allah for making it possible for them to see another Mount Arafat Day known as Sallah.
The mood in the nation’s capital, Abuja, was anything but celebration yesterday as most fun spots within the city were near empty with many of the residents, who had not travelled out of town, stayed indoors.
Also, most of the major roads were free of traffic and almost all the major bus stops that were knows for vehicular and human movements, were devoid of such.
For instance, the popular Domino Pizza place located in Wuse 2, which has become a major fun spot in recent times, was empty with few cars adorning the sidewalk. The few customers that were seen in the building clutched small bucket of ice cream with some adults munching away pizza.
Of the few persons on the queue, none ordered big pizza as they all went for the moderate size that ranged between N2,500 and N3,000. About two kilometers away from the Domino is the popular Wuse market, which normally records huge sales of wares, rams and foodstuffs among other necessities that make Sallah celebrations boom.
At the market, both the entry and exit access roads were empty while most shops remained under lock and key.
Even at the Millennium Park, where the entry fee is free, not many people were there to celebrate.
At the Jabi Lake, which houses Shoprite and Game, though the premises were occupied by cars, most of the shops recorded low patronage, as most visitors to the shopping mall came for sight-seeing.
While speaking with The Guardian on this year’s celebration, one of the worshippers, Teslim Oladele lamented the state of the Nigerian economy. He said the situation has affected the celebration as he had little or no money to spend.
Comparing this year’s celebration to last year’s Eid, he said: “There is no money to celebrate. We are just managing. We all know how much a bag of rice costs and the price of a ram in the market, goes for between N65,000 to N85,000 or more. Some of us can’t even afford to buy foodstuffs or new clothes for our children. We are hoping that after the Sallah celebration, prices will come down.”
In Lagos, the nation’s economic capital, particularly on formerly busy routes like Ikorodu to Obalende, there was low traffic as non- adherents chose to stay indoors to mark the Eid holiday. After the prayers and symbolic slaughtering of ram by the imam to signify sacrifice, it was time for the Muslims to slaughtering their rams at home and entertain friends.
A Lagos resident, Faruq Adeleke, said: “Food, clothes, ram and every other thing associated with the celebrations are now very expensive and beyond reach. I can’t afford to buy anything for my children this year.
“I used to buy a ram for my father but this time, I was not been able to do so. It has hindered me from performing my responsibility as a son. In fact, since I don’t have the money, I have not bothered to go to the market to ask for the price of a ram.
Also speaking, Tola Abiodun, a hairdresser, said: “Customers are not coming like they used to. Before, we used to have sleepless nights once there is a festive season, but this year, we are sitting and waiting for customers to come and even the ones that come, don’t make expensive hair styles. They want something simple and affordable.”
An Abuja-based economist, Emmanuel Olajire said the present scenari presents danger ahead for the country.
“The low turn-out of people during this Sallah festival shows two possibilities. The first one is that Nigerians are now learning how to live within their means. The second one is that lack of public spending by government is now eroding the purchasing power of the people.
“Perhaps, people remaining indoors could be because many workers are yet to receive their salaries. Whichever way government looks at the situation, it is a worrying trend and the solution is for government to urgently inject funds into the economy.”
Unlike in the past when ram markets in Abuja open till a day after Sallah before closing shop, the situation seems different this year as most of the markets spread across the city are closing shops and heading back to the northern part of the country.
Also yesterday, unconfirmed reports say about 10 persons were feared dead in a tragic accident that occurred along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. While details of the accident were still sketchy as at press time, online reports claim the victims were trapped in a commercial bus heading towards Ibadan, which had a head-on collision with a lorry around 6.00p.m
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