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Ahead Eid-El-Kabir, hard times weaken purchasing power


Indigenes of Osun State boarding a train to celebrate the Ileya Festival, in Osogbo, from the Iddo Terminus. The free ride is at the instance of the Rauf-Aregbesola-led government.     PHOTO: GABRIEL IKHAHON

Indigenes of Osun State boarding a train to celebrate the Ileya Festival, in Osogbo, from the Iddo Terminus. The free ride is at the instance of the Rauf-Aregbesola-led government. PHOTO: GABRIEL IKHAHON

The harsh economic climate prevalent in the country appears set to take the shine off this year’s Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice), or Eid al-Kabeer (the Great Festival), going by the skyrocketing prices of goods and services required to make the celebration thick.

In the countdown to this year’s edition, which takes place tomorrow, the symbolic offering of a sacrificial animal is dominating talks, especially in the light of recession-induced, weakened purchasing power of the average adult Muslim, who is desirous of fulfilling this religious obligation.

Though beast slaughtering at this time is not a mandatory religious chore, it has almost become like the norm. This explains why nail-biting sessions could become the lot of Muslim breadwinners that are incapable of taking home something from the bovine family, to perform this sacrificial rite.But clerics are on hand to caution that for those that are financially down at this time, there is no need borrowing funds in order to sacrifice a ram, as the Eid al-Adha celebration is not only about killing and eating ram or wearing new clothes and shoes.

According to the Deputy Chief Imam, NASFAT, Imam Moruf Onike Abdul Azeez, “There is no compulsion in slaughtering ram during the celebration of Eid-El-Kabir. The Quran says that God would never give any Muslim the burden that he cannot bear. Therefore, it is just sufficient to give thanks to God that one is able to witness another celebration of the season, and God would just be satisfied, rather than forcing oneself to slaughter ram at all cost, even when it is not convenient. Slaughtering of ram during the period is not a do or die affair.”
On his part, the Amir of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimin Foundation, Abdul Hakeem Muhammad Al-Awwai, it is permitted that about seven people can come together to buy a cow if it is for the purpose of Eid-El-Kabir. What matters most is the intention of those celebrating.  
“Another important aspect of the exercise is the giving of part of the ram to those the celebrant is better than, or those who do not have at all,” he added.Imam of Ogo-Oluwa Central Mosque, Isolo Road, Alhaji Abdurasaq Sanusi, maintains that God approves only ram and nothing else because it was a ram that was used to replace the son of Ibrahim that was to be slaughtered. Therefore, nothing other than ram that is approved.
“If God gives you the power to slaughter a ram for the purposes of celebrating this year’s Sallah, it is alright. But if you lack the capability, there is no harm because if one does not have the power to kill one this year, he may have power to do so next year.” 
In Lagos, Plenty Unaffordable Rams, Few Buyers.
IN different parts of Lagos State, affordability has been an issue, and the main cause of lulled activities in these ram markets. For instance, at the Oja Market in Idi-Araba area of the state, the large number of rams assembled at the muddy site, only had their seller and a few boys loading their feeds’ tray for company. Buyers were conspicuously out of sight.
Upon enquiry, the prices range ranged from N75, 000 to N40, 000, depending of course, on the size of the animal. “There are rams for everyone, depending on your pocket. We cannot scare anyone away with prices because we know the economic condition of the country presently. Moreover, we will not eat these rams ourselves if we scare customers away. That is why we make efforts to ensure that our customers go home with something that fits their pocket,” said the seller, a middle-aged lady
At Capitol, in the Agege area of the state, an average- sized ram also went for about N70, 000 to N65, 000. But the king-sized ones, the seller said, each had a princely sum of N150, 000 as their price tags. Expectedly, most buyers didn’t look that way at all.Mr. Badmos Afolabi, an engineer, and one of those who got one of hefty animals for N125, 000 said: “I had to buy it not because I am so comfortable with the price, but because it is the only size that can give me the quantity of meat that would go round those who depend on me for Sallah meat. The recession has made life very challenging, but it wouldn’t stop me from living what is told in the Quran, about Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing his son, which was replaced with a ram, by Allah.”  
At Lawanson, three men pulled resources together with the hope of buying a sizable ram, which they were to share thereafter. But they were disappointed with what they were offered for their amount. “The one we had interest in, the buyer insisted, goes for N150, 000. That amount is ridiculous even when we contributed money to do this. The one he wanted to sell to us goes for N90, 000, the meat cannot be enough for the three of us,” one of them lamented. In comparison with the situation this time last year, Sanusi Abodunrin Lukman, a ram seller says prices of ram have soared, and this he said is due to the inclement economic climate.

“The price of ram this year is definitely on the high side, compared to previous years. And one of the main factors responsible for this is the increased cost of transporting the animals from the North or Niger Republic, where they are bought. A ram that sold for N60, 000 last year is going for between N90, 000 and N100, 000 now,” he said. Another seller, Taiwo Rahamon, said, “Most people just buy a small ram and a cow in a situation where the price of a big ram is almost equivalent to the price of an average cow. This is because of the belief that the celebration demands a ram, no matter how small.

“When you tell some buyers the price of a ram, they would start pricing it even below cost price. I do not really blame them because I foresaw a situation like this coming up. And that is why I did not buy much either. Some buyers even thought that with the increased number of rams in the market that the price would crash, unfortunately, that has not happened.”

Plateau Residents Demand Reduction In Prices Of Common Goods, Services
JUST as they deplore the economic situation in the country, some residents of Plateau State are calling on the Federal Government to take urgent steps to bring down the cost of goods and services.In fact they are appealing to President Muhammad Buhari, to see to the normalisation of the prices of common goods, stressing that if nothing is done, they would definitely turn their back against him during the next general election in 2019.

Abuja ram market along Zuba-Abuja Express Way                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

Abuja ram market along Zuba-Abuja Express Way PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

“We will wait for him in 2019 to pay him back in his own coin because we know that he will come to us, the poor people, to seek re-election. That time, we will tell him how we suffered. We will tell him that we cried but he did not do anything. But we pray he heeds our cry and do something better before then,” Madam Mary Ogechi Eze, a retail storeowner, told The Guardian in Jos. According to Madam Mary Ogechi Eze, a retail storeowner, a container of local beans, which was sold for N250 during the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan, now goes for N450. A measure of garri that sold for N150 then, now sells for N250.” 
She added that ground sugar, which went for N300 before, now sells for the same measurement, and spaghetti that was selling for N120 per sachet, but now goes for N180. Palm oil, which was N250 per bottle, has now jumped to N600. Madam Florence, a food vendor is equally peeved at the skyrocketing price of most goods and services, including rice, Irish potato among others. She said only tomatoes and onions prices have remained largely unchanged.
At the ram market at Yan Shanu, in Jos North, a sizeable ram that used to go for about N40, 000 is now sold for about N70, 000. A ram seller, Mallam Abdullahi Shehu, said this year is the worst of his life as a ram seller. “Buyers are not coming. But for the few that come, once you tell the price, they just walk away, and we cannot take our rams home and eat them up.” 

Consider Our Plight, Customers Tell Ram Seller In Kano
DISTURBED by the increase in prices of rams, some Muslim faithful in Kano have complained that those dealing in the commodity were not considering the economic distress facing Nigerians.

They consequently want the sellers to be considerate when pegging the price of rams, to enable Muslims join their counterparts across the world to observe the important religious obligation. Checks by The Guardian revealed that prices of rams have risen by 40 per cent. This happening at a time when people are finding it difficult to have three square meals daily, they found distressing. 

At the Goron Dutse ram market, in Dala Local Council, a ram that hitherto went for N25, 000 is now sold for N40, 000. A ram seller, Ahmed Babanbene, said the increase was as a result of the hike in fuel price, which has inadvertently affected the cost of transportation.”Transporters have increased charges for transporting rams and cattle from neighbouring states, where cattle markets are located. For us to pay for that and still make profit, price increment is inevitable,” explained Babanbene.

“Since the price of feeding cattle and rams has increased, we also find it very difficult to bring down the price of rams. These are really difficult times for us,” explained another seller.

At the Kumbotso cattle market, chairman of the market Sani Ali said, “A ram that cost N65, 000 few weeks back, is now sold for N85, 000 or N90, 000, while a small ram which sold for between N18, 000 and N20, 000 now sells for N25, 000. The price of a medium-sized ram here has also risen N45, 000 to N60, 000.”

For Musa Bala, a father of six is not ready to undergo the stress of pricing rams that price tags are exorbitant. That is why, “I and three friends of mine, have decided to contribute money and buy a cow and share it during the Sallah, period.”This is an idea that is gaining grounds among many people in the city, who, instead paying N80, 000 for a ram, prefer to get a cow of about N100, 000 and share between themselves. Mutari Bashir, a father of three said: “I have my N50, 000 in my pocket and I went to three ram markets, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a suitable ram for that amount. I will keep my money with me till a day after Sallah,” stated Bashir.

Ibadan And Environs Witness Rise In Food Prices, Low Patronage
Food items in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and its environs have equally jumped up. But even in the midst of this, sellers are complaining of low patronage apparently due to the state of the economy. Major markets, including Bodija, Oritamerin, Alesinloye and Sango, were devoid of the usual hustle and bustle usually experienced during festivities of this nature.  
Worst hit are the ram sellers as most of them resorted to moving round the state capital in search of buyers.Prices of rams range from N40, 000 to N80, 000 One of the sellers who identified himself as Alhaji Lukman, lamented that sales has been very dull unlike previous years when they experienced a boom in sales.Lukman, who said most Muslims cannot afford to buy rams because of the downturn in the economy, added that so far, he has been able to sell only 12 rams, just as he prayed for better fortune.
The story was the same at the rice market as traders lamented low patronage. A bag of rice sells between N18, 00 and N20, 000, while other cooking ingredients have also gone up.A cross section of residents who spoke to The Guardian, said things were very tough with them and they were managing to survive.With schools set to resume in a few weeks, most residents said the Eid-El Fitri celebration would be low-keyed.

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