Few days to this year’s Eid-el-Kabir festival, most major markets in Lagos and Ebonyi states were devoid of the expected bustling activities that usually herald the season. Prices of rams continue to increase, making it almost unaffordable for many Muslims.
Activities at markets were still business as usual, with little or no difference to show that Eid-el-Kabir is around the corner. At this period, traders usually make a lot of brisk sales, but the reverse appeared to be the case.
At Daleko, Ikotun and Oshodi Markets, there was remarkable rise in prices of commodities, especially those considered essential for Sallah celebrations, including ram, with most people complaining of insufficient funds to purchase items, just as most traders bemoaned low patronage, compared to last year.
The Guardian observed a low turnout of customers at the popular market, with traders folding their arms awaiting prospective customers.A livestock seller at Ikotun, Saheed Shittu, decried low patronage, saying by this time last year, people had started buying rams and cows for the celebration, unlike this year. But he was optimistic of sales picking up as the celebration draws nearer.
“You can purchase rams from N40, 000 upward and the big ones from N60, 000 upward, depending on the size. Rams are quite expensive due to the cost of transport. Buyers who came to patronise us complain and most are not buoyant enough,” he lamented.Online livestock marketer, Fatimah Sani, attributes the high cost and low patronage of livestock to the present economic downturn in the country. She linked the rise in the price of livestock to insurgency in the northern part of the country and prohibition and restriction of importation of livestock from neighbouring countries.
A wholesale trader of rice at Daleko Market, who gave her name as simply Mrs. Bunmi, lamented low patronage, describing the situation as unfortunate. “Prices of rice have not increased. A bag of rice (Aroso) that was sold at N16, 000 before now goes for N14, 000 and Cap Rice, which we sold for N15, 000 goes for N13000. We sell 25-litre of Kings groundnut oil for N12, 000, while refill groundnut oil cost N10, 700,” she explained.
A dealer in Muslim wears at Ikotun Market, Alhaji Ahmed Ilyas, said the economic situation has not affected prices, but the increase in the exchange rate affects some items, adding: “Though there is low patronage of wears now, but we have hope in the last minute sales, especially Sallah eve.“We are still selling at the rate we sold during Eid-el-fitri celebration. A new male jalabia is sold for N3, 500, while fairly-used one goes for N1500. Adult caps range from N800 to N1500, while children caps range from N200 to N1000.”
A cloth merchant at Oshodi Market, who craved anonymity, said during such periods, most people prefer buying and sewing materials to ready-made clothes. He said: “Sales are not encouraging and patronage is low, compared to previous celebrations. Textile materials are not really expensive, but the price varies according to the quality of the fabrics.
“A quality Ankara fabric ranges from N4, 000 upwards, while quality lace brocade goes for N5, 000 upwards.” Tomatoe and pepper sellers in Ikotun said the current state of the economy has really affected the business, though there is no increase in price, adding: “We are selling daily, but hardly do we meet our expectations, because people have not been coming to buy. They source for alternatives, like using tin tomatoes and dry chili pepper for their cooking.”
A civil servant, Mukaila Sanusi, expressed displeasure at the high cost of ram, noting that during the previous celebrations, ram and cows were seen tied in front of so many houses, not the case now.“I used to buy at least two rams, but I will be much grateful to Allah if am able to buy one this year. As we speak, I don’t even know where the means will come from, but I am definitely counting on God. At this difficult time, one must cut his coat according to the clothes,” he ventured.
A farmer from Bauchi, Muhammad Awwal, said he managed to buy ram for himself and his mother, but could not afford new clothes for his family, but added: “You know it is raining season, as a villager, all our attention is turned to farming.”
A fashion designer, who did not want his name in print, said patronage has been relatively low, compared to last year, as people were not sewing new clothes.“It is like most people would wear what they have at home, because by this time last year, I had started working overnight. But for now, I don’t have any customer clothes with me,” she said.
Traders in Abakaliki metropolis in Ebonyi State also decried low patronage of foodstuffs and livestock.Tijjani Umar, Patron of Goats and Cow Sellers Association in Garki Market, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday that the price of rams had increased.He said: “The price of a ram, which was sold for N30, 000 last year, has increased to between N40, 000 and N45,000, depending on the size.“The cows, which sold for N300,000, N350, 000 and N150, 000, depending on their sizes, respectively, last year, are now sold at the rate of N370,000, N450,000 and N200,000.”
Mrs. Celina Okike, a tomato seller, also said a basket of tomatoes once sold for between N5, 000 and N6,000 had increased to N7,000, N8,000 and N9,000.“This situation has invariably made us to sell our wares at give-way prices. You can imagine where a big basket of tomatoes bought at the rate of N6,000 will be sold with just N500 profit,” she explained.She said that the expenses of bringing them from Gboko in Benue to Abakaliki were too much to bear.
Sylvernus Ezeora blamed the low patronage on the economy, which has forced down prices in some instances, adding: “For instance, old layer birds, which sold previously for between N1,700 and N1,800, now sell for between N1,500 and N1,600.“Also, broiler birds, which sold for between N2,500 and N2,700, now sell between N1,700 and N1,800. Yet no patronage.”