Bleak Sallah awaits many Muslims across the country as the festival is holding a few days to a new academic session.
Findings show that many Muslim parents have opted for low key Sallah celebrations and will prioritise their children’s education and payment of their tuition over merriment and the buying of rams.
Many of the Muslim faithful, who spoke to our correspondents, said they would be celebrating the festival indoors with their families because of paucity of funds and hike in the prices of goods.
For instance, in Akure, Ondo State, the average lowest price of ram is N30, 000 as against N10, 000 in 2015 at around the same time.
One of our correspondents reports that the prices of some food items have increased by over 100 per cent as a bag of rice that was sold last year for N10, 000 now costs N21, 000.
A federal civil servant, Mr. Tunji Adeniran, said he would not buy rams for the festival because doing that would affect the payment of his children’s tuition.
He said, “We have not been paid salary for August and I have no money in reserve. But even if I get paid before Monday, I will use the money to pay for the school fees of my children who will be resuming next week.”
Another resident of Akure, Alhaji Muritala Olabisi, said for the first time as a family man, he would not be buying rams for Sallah celebration.
He said, “I only intend to go to the Eid praying ground on that day and return home to my family.
“It is very unfortunate that we are experiencing a period like this; this has never happened to me before. Life is so tough for the people. The little money I have now cannot be spent on celebration. In few days from now, schools will resume and I have to pay my children’s school fees.”
In Lagos, the story is the same as many Muslims also lamented the effect of the economic situation on their finances.
A ram that cost N50, 000 in the metropolis around Sallah period in 2015 now costs about N80, 000.
A resident businessman, Alhaji Akanni Yusuf, who bought two rams for Sallah in 2015, said he would not be buying any this year.
Yusuf said his priority was paying his children’s tuition, which was over N350,000.
“By this time last year, I had bought two rams at the rate of N45,000 each, clothes for my children and the house had been stuffed with drinks, but I have decided not to buy anything because of the economic situation and my financial obligations.”
“My three daughters will be resuming school a week after Sallah. Their new tuition is N350, 000. This is apart from books and other materials they will need,” he said.
Muslims that are civil servants in Osun State said Sallah would be celebrated in low key due to the financial challenges facing the state and its people.
The Chairman of the Osun State wing of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, Mr. Wakeel Amudah, told one of our correspondents in Osogbo that although the state government paid half salary for June, many teachers would not get anything from their salaries because their banks would have deducted all of it to service their loans.
He said, “I have not bought any ram now. I don’t know how it will be done. So I can tell you that the celebrations will be low key in Osun State.
“The half salary for the month of June has been paid but the money is not leaving the banks because many won’t get a dime from it. The banks would have used the entire money to service the loans taken by workers.”
Traders, Mrs. Moriyeba Jamiu and Mrs. Fatima Olootu, said they were not making any preparations for the Sallah, adding that there were more pressing issues to spend money on than the festival.
Against the background of current economic challenges in Nigeria, many Muslim faithful in Katsina State said Sallah celebrations would be low key this year.
Many Muslims, who used to slaughter the symbolic rams during the annual festival, told one of our correspondents that they would not buy rams this year.
It was observed that many ram traders had relocated from the popular ram markets at Mayardua, Mashi, Dankama, Charanchi and Batsari to major streets in Katsina city with a view to getting more patronage.
However, despite their efforts, the ram traders said they were recording low sales.
One of them, Salisu Yesufu, said he sold average of two rams weekly, adding that many people have been complaining about paucity of funds.
A parent, who is a civil servant, Mallam Musa Funtua, said, “We cannot afford to buy any ram because of the situation in the country. But for Muslims, buying rams for Sallah is not compulsory and people should not borrow money to do so.”
When one of our correspondents visited the ram market in North Bank, Makurdi, a ram dealer, Ibrahim Sule, said the customers had been complaining about lack of funds.
He added that after much haggling over the prices of rams; customers would turn around and leave.
Alhaji Adam Musa, a beans seller, said, “Economically, the situation is not encouraging; spending during this period is hard. Last year, the economy was better and you know that schools will be resuming and children will be returning to school. So, even me, I will not buy ram this time but use the money with me to pay my children school fees.’’
Another Muslim, Abba Bello, said a week to Sallah last year, he had bought more than three rams but lamented how he was unable to buy any this time around due to the economic crisis.
Bello, however, appealed to the government to breathe life into the economy.
In Kwara State, many Muslims also expressed concern that the Sallah celebrations would be bleak as a result of financial constraints and high prices of rams and food items like rice, onions, and groundnut oil.
A civil servant in the state, Alhaji Bolaji Ajibade, claimed that this year’s Sallah would be the worst that he would experience.
Another Muslim, Alhaji Muyideen Ishaq, said he had decided to kill two chickens to celebrate Sallah with his family since he could not afford to buy a ram.
He said he would only visit the praying ground and return home to his family on Sallah day.
Also, Alhaja Simbiat Ambali, said she would only cook for her immediate family as against her previous practice of cooking for extended family members and friends since she could not afford such lavish merriment.
She also said she would not take her children to fun centres so as to save some money to buy their school uniforms and pay part of their school fees.
Investigations by our correspondent in Ilorin revealed that small sized rams now sell for between N40,000 and N50,000; medium sized rams go for between N65,000 and N70,000; while big sized rams sell between N120,000 and N140,000 as against last year when small sized rams could be bought at a price between N25,000 and N30,000; medium sized ram (between N35,000 and N40,000); big sized rams (between N50,000 and N60,000).
In view of the harsh economic crisis in the country, Muslims in Delta State said this year’s Sallah would witness a low-key celebration.
As of Friday morning, many Muslims in the state said there was no hope they would cook, let alone kill any ram to mark the event.
Our correspondent, who visited the ram market situated along the Benin/Effurun Expressway and the Effurun market in Uvwie Council Area of the state, observed a significant rise in the prices of goods and food items.
The situation was not different at the Igbodu market in Warri South.
A bag of rice which sold for N12,000 this time in 2015 now goes for N22,000. A gallon of palm oil now sells for N2,000 as against N1,200 six months ago.
A Muslim cleric and a store owner at Igbudu market, Alhaji Musa Sadiq, said, “I know many people with numerous problems. Nigerians only feel the impact of government policies during celebrations. Prices of foodstuff have gone up. The non-payment of workers’ salaries has made things difficult for those of us celebrating.”
Chairman, League of Imams and head of the Muslim community in Delta State, Mustapha Ahmed, also said this year’s Sallah celebrations would be low-key.
Also in Kaduna, the traditional title holder of Ciroman Laduga in Kachia, Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ibrahim Bayero, lamented the effect the economic crisis will have on this year’s Sallah celebrations across the country.
Bayero noted that he used to buy a ram for his aged mother for Sallah, but regretted that he could not afford such luxury this year.
He said, “There will be no celebration at all; the situation now really shows that people are suffering.”
Reports by: Femi Makinde, Success Nwogu, Fisayo Falodi, Gbenro Adeoye, Godwin Isenyo, Peter Dada, Attah Ede, Olaide Oyelude and Ovie Okpare