Muslims all around the world are celebrating Eid Kabir, a symbolic remembrance of how Allah spared the life of Isiak and asked that a ram be sacrificed instead. However, this year’s celebration in Nigeria came in the midst of Nigeria's worst economic recession in twenty-nine years. SaharaReporters asked the views of some residents on Lagos Island about the ways in which the recession has affected the Sallah celebration.
From the dryness of the streets to the lean sacrificial animals tied to poles, it was easy to see that the effects of the recession had already been felt on Lagos Island. Many families who had never missed out on the symbolic killing could not participate in this year’s ceremony because the price of ram had skyrocketed. The few who could afford to participate were forced to cut their “costs according to their size,” Alhaji Aremu Oshisanya, told SaharaReporters.
Mr. Oshisanya added that in past years, he had killed three to four rams, but he could afford two this year.
“The situation in the country is terrible. I thank Allah for myself because at least I am able to kill rams. I used to kill two or three but the situation is tight now and I have other responsibilities. My children will resume school very soon and I will have to pay for books and the rest of the things they will need,” he said.
Ustadz Isiak Muhammadul Jamiu opined that the frail appearance of the animals is due to the present economic situation in the country.
“The economy affects the animals because those bringing the animals into the city said it is now too expensive to feed the animals. The feed they used to buy for a thousand naira now sells for double, if not more. Since they do feed the animals well, there is no way they can be fat,” Mr. Jamiu told our correspondent.
A Northerner present at the celebration told our correspondent that his goat sales have steadily declined in recent times.
“There is no money. The price of goats makes it difficult to profit,” he disclosed to our correspondent. “And because we have to walk long distances with the goats we have, they lose weight,” he added.
Many were of the opinion that the government has not delivered on its campaign promise to the people. Abiodun Fatai, known as Ma O in his neighborhood, appealed to the government to look critically at the economic situation in the country and strive to alleviate the people’s suffering. He went further to say that cows that were sold for less than fifty thousand naira two or three years ago now sell for over a hundred thousand naira.
“This Illeya festival is not as the people expected because things are very tight and difficult. Although people still find ways to buy rams here and there but it would have been better two or three years ago. The way Ileya is being celebrated in Lagos Island is always very colorful, but times are sad,” he said.
Mr. Fatai lamented the heavy taxation the government has subjected the people to in recent times, saying that such taxation only brings more hardship to Nigerians already suffering the recession. He advised that the government go back to the drawing board and find means to cushion the effects of the recession on the masses.