Eid-El-Kabir: Muslim faithful grapple with costly food items, higher fares
Usually, prices of food items tend to rise as the Eid-el-Kabir approaches, and this year is no exception. As Muslim faithful celebrate this festival, today, in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to sacrifice his son, there is noticeable hike in the cost of rams, one of the essential items of the celebration, and other relevant items.
The Guardian’s visit to some markets around Lagos revealed that the prices of some of these items have gone up by as much as 50 percent, although some buyers attributed the development to prevailing circumstances in the country and not just the festival. At the Ejigbo ram market, Mohammed Kachalla, a ram dealer, said the smallest ram cost N35, 000, while bigger ones, depending on their sizes and buyers’ bargaining power, could be got at N50, 000, N75, 000, N80, 000 and even N200, 000.
Adewale, also a ram dealer, disclosed that the security situation in the country contributed to the increase in prices, especially as over 90 per cent of the rams come from the north.
Commenting on the rising cost of rams, Mr. Yusuf, a Muslim faithful, said the quality of the rams, rather than their sizes, should determine their price. And to cut cost, in view of the harsh economic realities in the country, he was of the opinion that Muslim faithful should endeavour to rear their own rams, as locally bred rams are well-fed, weigh more and have more beef than those brought to Lagos from the north during the festive season.
President of The Muslim Congress, Dr. Lukman AbdurRaheem, explained that Eid-ul-Adha, also known as Eid-el-Kabir, is the ‘Feast of the Sacrifice,’ hence Muslim families with the financial ability are expected to sacrifice rams, goats and camels and share to their neighbours and friends during the festival. He said: “Slaughtering rams and other recommended animals are done to commemorate the great sacrifice and submission to the will of Allah, as exemplified by Prophet Ibrahim.”
On whether Muslims can pool resources together to slaughter animals for the festival, the Amir said no collaboration is permitted for ram and goat. He disclosed that it must be one ram, sheep or goat per head or family. AbdurRaheem, however, noted that five persons could collaborate to slaughter one cow or camel and that only ram, goat, sheep, cow and camel are allowed to be used as sacrificial animals.
The cleric disclosed that Islam does not permit chicken, turkey, whale, bush rats and others to be used for the sacrifice, stressing that faithful could only kill such animals for food and to entertain guests in a situation, where they are incapable of slaughtering the prescribed sacrificial animals. He said: “Poor people are exempted from slaughtering rams and those that have should give them. They are not under duress to slaughter rams, goats and camels. Rather, the rich and those who slaughtered must share with them.
“About one-third of the slaughtered animal should go to the poor, vulnerable people, widows, orphans, refugees, the elderly and physically challenged.”The increase in prices is not limited to rams alone, as it cuts across all consumables, resulting in low purchasing power and fewer buyers.
Madam Oge told The Guardian that food items were very expensive in practically all the markets she had been. “Prices of food items, including tomatoes, pepper, fish and others have really gone high. So, people have to spend more to buy these items. If you are not careful, you will end up buying only half of what you need,” she said. At Bariga Market, the price of a 50 kilogramme bag of rice was between N17, 000 and N18, 000, while the 25 kilogramme bag was between N9, 000 and N14,500, depending on the brand.
Mr. Silas, a rice dealer, said before now, the 50kg bag of rice went for N15, 000, but as the festival approached, the price rose a little, making sales dull, as many people find it hard buying at the new prices. Mrs. Tayo, who sells tomatoes, onions and peppers in Bariga Market, said a small basket of tomatoes was N4, 000, while the big ones cost N7, 000.
She explained that a bag of pepper cost N6, 700, while a big bag of onions was N10, 000. She also said the security situation in the northern part of the country and poor network of roads contributed to the hike in prices of food items.
Mrs. Bolaji, a trader in Yaba Market, said aside from the poor condition of roads in the country, people, especially Muslim faithful that was doing last-minute shopping, were responsible for the hike in prices of foodstuffs and other items.
According to her, three litres of Kings vegetable oil, which before now was sold for N2, 700 is now N2, 800, while two litres of Power oil, which sold for N1, 700 is now N1, 800.
BUT it is not only the markets and traders that feel the impact of the season. In the spirit of the festival, much Muslim faithful travel out of Lagos to their hometowns and villages. So, the period usually records inter and intra-state movements, with its attendant hike in bus fares.
At Yaba Motor Park, passengers travelling from Lagos to Kano by road were charged N9, 000 as against the old fare of N8, 500. Musa Ahmed, a civil servant, said he was forced to pay more than he budgeted, as the hike in fare was unnecessary. He urged operators to show more concern for the people in the spirit of the season. Salawudeen Ajibola, who was travelling from Lagos to Abuja, blamed transporters for the hike. In his view, since fuel price has remained the same, transporters had no right to hike fares.
A transport operator, Dantata Garba, disclosed that the hike in fare was as a result of the number of people travelling out of the state. He said: “The problem is that some of our buses find it hard getting passengers when returning from Kano to Lagos. So, to make up for this loss, we have to hike fares from Lagos to Kano. We have more passengers travelling this year than last year because more people have developed the habit of celebrating Id-el Kabir with their loved ones in the village.”
Meanwhile, the FRSC Lagos State Sector Commander, Mr. Hyginus Omeje, told The Guardian that no traveller would be stranded or sleep on the highway. He said the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) would ensure there was a free flow of traffic on the busy Lagos/Ibadan, Lagos/Badagry and Lagos/Epe Expressways, as well as other federal roads within the state. He assured travellers of little or no stress during the season. He said the corps would extend their services till 10 pm, while arrangement had been put in place for security backup along the three routes.
And to complement efforts of the Corp, Omeje advised motorists to be disciplined and shun over speeding to avoid accidents on the highways. He stressed that maintaining lane discipline, obedience to traffic rules and signs are crucial while driving, especially during the busy festive periods. He said: “Drivers should obey laid down traffic signs, maintain lane discipline and shun stopping at unauthorised places to pick passengers. We have started our enlightenment campaigns at various motor parks to ensure we do not record crashes.
“We focus more on motorists and commercial drivers avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We advise drivers to avoid using phones while driving to ensure that road crashes are reduced to the barest minimum.”
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