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Eid-el-Kabir: Insecurity, harsh economy resonate as Muslim faithful celebrate

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AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

• Prices Of Ram Soar
• People Limit Expenses, Say Situation Worse This Year

The controversies surrounding cattle rearing and settlements in the country have caused the prices of rams and cows to shoot up, as the Muslim faithful literarily wade through the storm to fulfill their spiritual obligations of ram slaughtering for the Eid-el-Kabir which is due tomorrow.

For many who are qualified to slaughter ram during the popular festival, the skyrocketed prices have been discouraging, while others insisted on participating in the Islamic ritual of ram slaughtering even if it would amount to going for a smaller one.

Eid-el-Kabir, also known as Eid el-Adha is an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son (Ismail). The son was later replaced with a ram. The festival is popularly known for ram slaughtering in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic religion.

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The Guardian gathered that thousands of the faithful who engaged in the spiritual rite last year were denied the obligation this year due to high prices.

The high prices were hinged on the security challenges in the country particularly as regards the location of the herdsmen and controversial creation of Rural Grazing Areas (RUGA) across the country. This move by the Federal Government met stiff resistance from many citizens including some state governors.

Visits to some ram dealer markets in Agege, Iyana Ipaja, Mushin, Ifo, Sango, Ota, among others, showed that the prices have shot up by about 30 per cent from last year’s range. Survey revealed that cows that sold for N80,000 last year now goes for between N110,000 and N120,000; rams that sold for N50,000 last year now goes for between N70,000 and N80,000. An average size ram that qualifies for Salah costs between N50,000 and N80,000, while those below N40,000 are smaller sizes and in some cases infants.

Some cattle traders in Lagos and Ogun states confirmed to The Guardian that it takes courage to travel far into the North in search for rams that would be traded during the festive season. To them, the prices were overwhelming, even as the risk of traveling such a distance in the face of security challenges left a heart in the mouth.

Sodiq Lawal, a young graduate who has been hustling and struggling to eke a living after about two years of graduation decided to try his hands on cattle trading, and confirmed that it was a herculean task to behold.

Being a Muslim who knows the significance of ram slaughtering during Eid-el-Kabir and the monetary benefit that comes with such, Lawal counted his gains but also bemoaned the risks he surmounted in a chat with The Guardian.

Having traveled from his Ota home in Ogun State to Gaidan market, Damaturu in Yobe State, a journey of about three days, he said the experience was a lifetime one.

“It was between life and death. Sometimes, I lost hope. When we got to a point on a very lonely expressway after Abuja, where some armed men mounted road block, all vehicles had to park, save for the intervention of the security officers.

“Numerous security checkpoints were on the road to safeguard travellers. The security officials enforce curfew in the communities from 10.00p.m., during which travellers find a place to sleep till 6.00a.m. when the roads are opened to traffic,” he said.

According to him, all these are part of the reasons for the high price. Another factor, according to Lawal, was the delayed rainy season, which the herdsmen claimed had impacted on grazing and therefore compelled them to move far away from town in search for grazing land. This led to low numbers of cows in town thereby making demand higher than supply.

In line with the economics rule of demand and supply, he said the low supply automatically triggers the price.

Lawal also lamented a situation where gunmen laid ambush on the roads to attack cattle traders and highjack their cows.

“We saw over 200 cows that were highjacked from traders, but was later recovered by men of the Nigerian police. Meanwhile, the owners of the cows were nowhere to be found. They have fled for their dear lives during the initial attack,” he said.

In the wholesales market, the ram goes for between N30,000 and N50,000. However, the prices have skyrocketed this year with the same size of ram bought for N50,000 now selling for N80,000.

“It is sad, many of us (traders) could not afford to buy many rams and cows due to the high price. I hope that the Federal Government will do something urgently about the security challenges, if the nation’s economy were to grow, because businessmen are suffering a lot in their quest to buy and sell commodities,” he noted.

A Muslims faithful, Hammed Taiwo, also bemoaned the high cost of ram in the market, noting that he had to purchase one about 10 days before Salah in order to get it cheaper.

Taiwo noted that even at that, the prices were so high and would definitely discourage many Muslims from the conditional obligatory rite.

“I bought two rams and each cost N50,000. I have two wives and I want the two of them to be happy during the festival, so I am compelled to buy two rams, even at high prices. Last year, I bought it for N40,000 and it was big enough. But this year, I had to buy according to my financial capacity,” he said.

Tomato Foods

Having realised how unaffordable ram is to many willing Muslims, the Odi Olowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area of Lagos State has offered subsidised rams to cushion the effect on buyers.

The ram, according to the Chairman, Rasaq Olusola Ajala sold for N20,000 each, although with some conditions and evidence of tax payment. It was gathered that many were already scrambling to get a slot in the ram bazar.

At the popular Alaba-Rago ram market in Ojo area and Igando ram markets (Olowo Ina, College and Ejo bus stops) along Ikotun-Igando road, Lagos, the least price for a medium size ram was N50,000 while the big size went for as high as N120,000. Some customers there also said the prices of the animals were too high compared to last year when they bought the same sizes for between N30,000 and N90,000.

A customer, at Alaba-Rago market, Alhaji Abdul-Hameed Kajogbola, told The Guardian he came early to buy a ram to avoid last minute rush and the attendant high price but he could not due to the high price.

He said: “There are other preparations to make. Though the slaughtering of a ram is symbolic, but buying at such an exorbitant price is not necessary at this time. I will get one, maybe after the Eid prayer. Hopefully, the prices would have become moderate then, as the sellers would be willing to sell at reasonable prices to also have funds to meet their family needs.”

A ram seller in the market, Muhammed Saiyabo, also blamed the rise in prices on the high cost of breeding the animals, rise in transport cost, insecurity and the general economic hardship in the country.

For Shehu Baba Moguno, a ram dealer at Igando (Olowo Ina) market, not much profit was being made, as the cost of transporting the animals was very high, which he said was necessitated by various factors.

“Transporting the rams to Lagos is expensive. Even buying them over there in the North is quite expensive, as the people we buy from give reasons for the high prices. They said the cost of tending to the rams, feeding and vaccinate them while waiting for customers have all gone high,” he said.

Apart from the conventional markets, temporary ram markets have sprouted up virtually at strategic corners and streets, as there are also vendors who over time have been rearing rams. Because some people prefer such rams, they take advantage of Sallah celebration to make brisk money.

A visit to the popular ram market at Oke-Afa revealed that while there are plenty of sellers and ram for sale, buyers were few.

A dealer, Musa Abdullahi, lamented the situation, saying it was worse than last year.

“Ileya is almost here and sales has refused to pick up; I haven’t sold a single ram since morning, people are just coming to price but are not buying. I even have goats for sale for those that cannot afford rams, still they are not buying. Do they want us to start selling chicken too?” he lamented.

Also, it is observed that as soon as you step into the market, one is besieged by touts that act as intermediaries between the Hausa traders and buyers as the traders could neither speak English nor Yoruba. So, the touts are another issue entirely as you have to ‘find something for them’ after the transaction is done. There are also fears that they collect a cut from the traders. The rams varied in size and prices, starting from about N40, 000 to as high as N120, 000.

Abdullahi claimed that the reason the rams were so expensive was because of the high cost of transporting them from the North down to the South, insecurity and displaced traditional rearers. He claimed that each ram cost above N30, 000 coming in the North and they had to feed the animals, take general care of them and still make a profit.

A buyer at the market, one Mrs. Abisoye, who said she had intention of buying two rams before, said she could only buy one. “I usually buy two rams every year and share it amongst my family members but everything is so expensive now — ram, pepper and so on. I bought this ram N54, 000 and bought the feed for N1,000. Last year, this same size was about N45, 000, even as at few days to Ileya. But this year, things are different,” she said.

The story is not different for the traders selling live chickens at the market as they also complained of poor sales. A trader who identified herself simply as Iya Biola said she was selling chicken and turkey for those that couldn’t afford to buy a ram.

“We want to accommodate those that cannot afford ram and still, sales have been so dull. Since you’ve been here, how many people have you seen coming to buy anything? I really hope things improve by the weekend because right now, there is no sign that a big festival is coming up,” she noted.

Meanwhile, it was discovered that a 50kg bag of parboiled rice (imported) hovers between N15,000 and N17,000, while the price of local rice was stable at N21,000 per bag of 80kg. A 10kg bag of Semovita, which sold at N2,900, now sells at N3,100.

A trader at Igando market, Mr Jude Okolie, said the marginal increase in the prices of some food items was due to the Sallah festival, even though he noted that the prices of some food items have remained stable for some time. For instance, a 25-litre of vegetable oil still sells for between N16, 500 and N17, 000 depending on the brand.

A visit to Mile 12 market on Ikorodu road showed it was business as usual for the traders. As at 8.00a.m, the place was beehive of activities with traders, buyers, touts and load carriers haggling over goods and prices.

Investigations showed that tomatoes were still expensive as a small basket of imported tomatoes known as Cameroon tomatoes were selling for between N6,000 and N7,000 depending on the size while the big basket sold for between N14, 000 and N16, 000. A small bag of rodo was selling for N5,000 while the big bag retailed between N12, 000 and N14, 000.

A trader who didn’t want his name in print said the prices were not stable and changed daily but would definitely go up as the festivities draw closer.

“Prices of tomatoes, pepper and other perishables are expected to go up because the people bringing it would go on holiday and they will become slightly scarce, hence, more expensive. This doesn’t affect us in any way as we deal in an essential commodity and no matter how expensive it gets, people will still buy,” he said.

Sallah: No Price Hike In Plateau
From Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi, Jos
The social, economic and security challenges facing many families in the country have also taken toll on the 2019 Eid-el Kabir festivity in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

This was the view of Alhaji Maidoya Sani, a businessman who deals on wholesale clothes. He lives in Angwan Rogo area of Jos. He said many people could not travel to their preferred destinations for the festivity because of insecurity and bad roads.

To make the matter worse, Sani said the economy of the country was at its lowest ebb.

“You don’t buy things and make gains because of high costs of raw materials, consumable goods and services. If you travel by roads, you stand the risk of being kidnapped. There are also the fears of accidents and robberies by unknown gunmen. And there is no money to travel by air.

“The improved rail system only works in few places like Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos, Kano. The one in Jos is grounded and has collapsed. So, this year’s celebration may not as robust as previous editions.”

When the The Guardian visited the popular Bauchi Road Motor Park in Jos, NTA Park, Gada Biu Park, Zaria Road Bus Park and others, which used to witness large turnout of travellers during Salah period, they were scanty as only few travellers could be found dotting the parks.

One of the drivers who ply Jos-Kaduna road, Yusuf Aboki, said that in the past, a prospective traveller had to book two days earlier, adding that the situation had drastically changed as passengers trudged to the park around 10.00a.m as against 7.00/8.00a.m before.

Aboki said the cost of transportation did not increase because there was no increase in fuel pump price.   He said that most public servants in Jos who used to travel before told him that most of them were paid last month and that they had almost exhausted everything.

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At Jos Terminus Main Market, it was observed that the cost of food items has not increased, rather it has dropped marginally because in August in Plateau State, “this is when new yams, Irish potatoes and cocoyams are coming in large quantities into the markets which forced price to come down.

“There are enough foodstuff in the market and no rush. And these new foods are not the ones you store during the rainy season. You either sell or you leave them to get spoilt. But the cost of ram is still high because farmers-herders clashes and cattle rustling have reduced the number of cattle in the market. So, the little available attract high prices,” says Mijinyawa, a ram seller in the market.

He said that a ram costs about N25,000 and N80,000 depending on the size. A cow goes for between N130,000 to N270,000 while chickens go for between N2,000 and N5,000.

It was also observed that a 25 litres of Jerry Can of palm oil still sold for N13,000 while a bag of rice sold for between N4,000 to N7,000.

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Eid el-Kabir
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