By Chukwuma Nwakanma
Id-El-Kabir is the festivalÂ thatÂ marks the end of Hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca, one of the five pillars of Islam.
It is traditionally celebrated by Moslems around the world with the slaughtering of domestic animals, especially rams, in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahimâ€™s submission to the will of Allah. Traditionally, the meat is shared with friends and relations, especially the less-privileged.
As this yearâ€™s Id-el-Kabir festival drew nearer, prices of rams have continued to soar, almost out of the reach of many Moslems.Â A survey conducted by Vanguard Metro revealed that an average sized ram now costs almost twice the amount it was sold during last yearâ€™s Sallah celebration.
For instance, at the Ile -Ekpo ram market along the Mile Two-Badagry Expressway,Â an average ram costs between N45,000 and N50,000,as against N20,000 or N25,000 before the festive period, while bigger ones could sell for up to N70,000. One of the ram dealers at the market, Malam Salihu Umar blamed the situation on the high cost of animal feeds and transportation from the Northern states to Lagos.
He said: â€œApart from high cost of feeding due to drought suffered by farmers at the beginning of the farming season, we pay heavily for the spaces we occupy in the market. When you add all the expenses, you will find that we only make little gain after selling the ramsâ€. But lamenting over the unusually high cost of the rams, Alhaji Lawal Ayide, one of the customers at the Alaba-Rago ram market said the situation is bad enough because â€œpeople are not bouyant enough to afford these high pricesâ€.
He did not stop there.Â â€œThe size of ram we bought at N25,000 and N40,000 last year is now between N60,000 to N70,000. It is too bad because not many here can afford to present ram as gift to people this year,â€ he said.
Another ram dealer, Malam Nasir Yahaya at the Alaba-Rago market in Okokomaiko blame little money in circulation for the poor sales recorded by ram dealers and not the soaring prices of the rams, adding thatÂ Â Â in spite of the complaint about the high cost of rams â€œpeople are willing to buy but could not do so due to lack of moneyâ€.
According to him: â€œSome now either settled for goats, went for cow meat or decided not to slaughter any animal for the Sallahâ€. He saidÂ traders who were anticipating bumper sales as the Sallah celebration drew near are presently counting losses as a result of the poor patronage that characterised this season.
Apart from ram, spices and vegetable sellers are also lamenting over poor patronage. At the Balogun annex market located at the Trade Fair Complex, Mrs. Stella Thomas, a tomatoes and spice seller, confirmed that patronage has been absymally low compared with last yearâ€™s Sallah celebration. According to her, this was partly due to the global economic recession and its attendant effect on the people. She said â€œcustomers who are supposed to buy in packets and gallons now rather prefer counting and measurement(of the items) as a result of lack of money in circulationâ€.
The situation is no different atÂ the textile section of the market. The section which usually booms at this period was almost like a ghost town, even with the Christmas few days away.Â She informed that a 25 litres of vegetable oil now sells at N6, 800.00, a bag of semovita for N1, 900.00 while semolina goes forÂ N1, 850.00.
The price of a bag of rice ranges between N8, 000.00 and N9, 000.00 .
The traders revealed that they recorded high sales last year unlike what obtains this year. According one to them, Mrs. Safinatu Idris:Â â€œSince morning we have been here and there has not been any sale. We are just sitting down hoping that customers will come. Sales have not been encouraging at allâ€.
Dismissing complaints of high costs of goods,Â she said â€œthis year there is not much increase in prices of goods; even the prices of some food stuff came down, yet customers complain of no moneyÂ in making purchases for their celebrations this seasonâ€.
She noted, for instance, that the price of chicken(cockerel) has been stable at N3, 000.00 just as that of old layers ranges between N900.00 and N1,000.00. At the same time,Â the price of a kilogramme of beef and chickenÂ remain at between N500 and N550..
â€œIf you look round you will see that the place is scanty and this is how it has been since morning. We are only hoping that it will get better in the evening. Sales have been so bad; at least it was not as bad as this last year,â€ she lamented.
Alhaji Mumuni Musa told Vanguard MetroÂ why as a Muslim it was imperative for him to celebrate the Id el kabir.
He said: â€œMyÂ father is a Muslim, thus all his wives and children are also Muslims. Every year my father slaughters two rams, one for his friends, and the other for our familyâ€. So following in the tradition of his father Alhaji Musa feels he is under obligation to slaughter a ram, high cost or no high cost.