Recession heralds austere Xmas celebrations
• Rivers residents shun markets due to hike in food prices
• Prices of some commodities drop in Lagos market
It’s six days to Christmas, which is usually a huge celebration in the country, not only for those who belong to the Christian faith but also to non-Christians. From parties on Christmas eve to caroling, feasting, and gift-giving, high spirit celebrations abound all through the season into the new year.
However, this merry-making season may be a bleak Christmas for residents of Rivers State due to the current economic woes. Findings show that there is about 200 per cent increase on the prices of food items in the market, yet salaries of workers have not increased. Some even have their wages cut down while others have been sacked from their jobs.
A bag of rice which was sold between N9,500 to N10,000 around this time last year now sells for N25,000; five litres of groundnut oil and palm oil which sold for N1,300 now sells for between N4,000 to N5,000. Also, a basin of garri that was sold for N1,500 before now sells for between N2,500 to N3,000 depending on the quality.
Consequently, businesses have slowed down, people no longer live flamboyant life, what is more important to them now is to eat and live for the next day, with little thoughts about sharing with friends and loved ones, which is the hallmark of the season.
Speaking on the development, a father of four, who resides in Port Harcourt, Mr. Lewis Mbata, said the economic situation has forced his family to adopt a new lifestyle.
According to him, “things are no longer the way it used to be. This is no longer time to buy new clothes for children to wear at Christmas. It is not the time to share gifts to friends and family members because the means is not there. The priority now is to eat and even the staple foods like rice, garri etc are very expensive beyond the reach of the common man.”
Mbata noted further that by the first week of January, schools will resume and school fees would be beckoning, stressing that if one goes to buy clothes and gifts to please family members and friends just for Christmas, he or she will suffer the consequences in the early days of the new year when things are dry.
The Guardian also observed that several families have cut down on frivolous lifestyle as some people now eat without meat and fish due to its high cost.
Findings in Mile One, Mile Three and Township markets in Port Harcourt, showed a very low patronage. Traders in the market lamented that people have ceased to buy items from the market, but were rather channeling their little resources to patronise the popular ponzi scheme, Marvrodi Mundial Moneybox (MMM).
Meanwhile, the suspension of the scheme last Tuesday has threw thousands of its subscribers in Rivers State into panic, especially those who have planned to use their own returns to celebrate this Yuletide.
Surprisingly, ahead of Christmas celebration, prices of tomatoes and pepper have reduced by 55 per cent in most Lagos markets. At Mile 12 and Iddo markets, a basket of tomatoes, which previously cost N9,000 now sells for N5,000, while tatashe and chilli pepper cost N4,500 and N4,000 respectively, as against N8,000 in November. A jute bag of Onions sells for N17,000 as against N28,000, while a paint measurement of garri costs N650.
Mr. Femi Odusanya, spokesperson, Mile 12 Traders Association, said the prices dropped due to massive harvest of the items for the Yuletide season. “Most farmers are harvesting their produce now leading to surplus and drop in prices of the items in the market.
“Our appeal to government is to mop up the excesses through preservation because prices will further drop until April when the produce will not be in season. “We do not want a repeat of previous experience that we had much food waste due to our inability to preserve the excesses,” he said.
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