By Ebun Babalola
Oh, my God! what will I do now? I canâ€™t buy anything for my children,Â even my wife is complaining…. I donâ€™t know what to do. Iâ€™m yet to get Christmas gifts for my parents, even for my siblings.
â€œMy company has refused to pay us our salaries, not to talk of theÂ bonus. How do I get over this situation? I donâ€™t want my children to go borrowing. Oh God! help me,â€ lamentedÂ Mr. Francis Nwobodo,49, a technician with one ofÂ the reputable companies in Lagos.
Nwobodo is a father of five children. He is also expecting the sixth childÂ but is worried.
He has no choice than to preside over a family of about eight at a time the year is winding up with its attendant challenges and demands to identify with the celebration, especially with the hard times. He isÂ Â Â filled with mixed feelings and despair rather than bliss of Christmas season.
WhenÂ his five children confrontedÂ him with demands for new clothes, shoes and all, the realities of the celebration hit him. As usual, Nwobodo, who could not contain the ugly situation because he has no money burst into tears, profoundly expressing his grief.
To him, there is nothingÂ to celebrate. On the contrary, there is every reason to give thanks to God for surviving the turbulent year.
Christmas is celebrated all over the world inÂ different ways. But what is common in all of them are the fun, fanfare, exchange of gifts, cards, parties. Homes, companies, banks, churches, embassies, institutions, clubs etc are not left outÂ with decorations and other trappings associated with Christmas. Also fire-works rock theÂ urban areas, streets, markets, shops, streets and villages etc.
When Saturday Vanguard went to the markets and some of these places mentioned above, signs that people were anticipating Christmas celebration with less enthusiam,Â due largely to the ailing economy and lack of money,Â which can be attributed to a spillover of global economic meltdown were everywhere. Lagos market on Tuesday morning also proved that there are no signsÂ ofÂ the festive period,Â unlike the previous years.
At Oshodi, those whoÂ came to buy things wereÂ rather looking confused, as they gazed at things to buy, while those who managed to buy things also boughtÂ in small quantity, considering their budget. According to them, they are cutting their coats according to their cloths.
TheÂ ever busy Oshodi was not so because of the economic crisis, or what people people could refer to as lack of money or purchasing power. Saturday Vanguard spoke with Mr. Waheed Esan who deals in clothings.Â Esan said there was no marked changed in the sales of his goods compared to other days before December.
â€œWhat is the global world doing to tackle this problem? Is there any solution at all?â€ he asked.
For over six hours moving from Balogun market where clothes, bags and shoes to Dosumu market, where baby wears as well as Christmas decorations are sold , and from Oke-Arin Market where chickens and turkeys are sold in their large quantities to Jankara Market, the story was the same.
As market women and men were lamenting the low rate ofÂ sales, those who have come to buy things in the market could not hold back their tears due to the increase in the price of commodities of things they wanted to purchase.
Mrs. Talabi Mojisola, a wholesaler who deals in babyâ€™s wears told Saturday Vanguard that this yearâ€™s sales had been affected by theÂ economic crisis. Before now, the business has been lucrative. But now the story isÂ different .
â€œThis year cannot be compared to previous years. Our people have refused to come to patronise our products and the money is no more flowing the way, it should beâ€.
But Mrs. Bisi Alani gave thanks to God for sparing her life andÂ her family. â€œAt least, we are not sitting down in our houses. The truth is that last this last year was different.
There is noÂ money and people have refused toÂ patronise us. We are asking the government of this country to help bring out Nigerianâ€™s currency. We are going through some challenges. Those who are hoarding our money should bring it out.
This yearâ€™s sales are nothing to write home aboutâ€, she concluded.
Several years ago people take their time to prepare for Christmas unlike these days people complain of lack of money to celebrate. Some are pre-occupied with settling debts; some are battling with hunger, and suddenly, some lovers become enemies, perhaps to reconcile after the New year.
In a particular house near the reporterâ€™s house, the season has torn the family apart as the breadwinnerÂ has disappearedÂ leaving his wife and four children in dilemma of sorrowing over a missing father amidst celebrations .
In another development, a friend also discussed his experience when he visited a particular family some weeks ago. According to him, the father was just given a sack letter in his place of work while his wife just put to bed. For this particular family, it is impossible to talk aboutÂ Christmas and the New year celebrations.