All over the world, festive periods are always times to look forward to because of activities like shopping for new dresses, shoes, food items and other goodies. At these periods, traders usually make a lot of sales; consequently prices of goods and services witness a rise too. But as there are different festive periods like Christmas celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, New Year and Eid-el-kabir so also the level of preparation by especially Christians and Muslims respectively.
For instance, it has been discovered that the faithful of the two popular religions: Christianity and Islam, usually take the celebrations of Christmas, New Year and Eid-el-kabir more seriously than any other like the Easter, hence the prices of goods and services usually sky rocket. Even traders get more patronage at Christmas, New Year and Eid-el-Kabir than during Easter. No wonder the last week Easter, a time when one would have expected to see Nigerians trooping to the market, expecting a hike in prices of goods and services, increased market activities and sales, everything appeared ‘ dry’ and stable.
Few days to the 2016 Easter, activities at markets across the country were still business as usual with little or no difference to show that Easter was here. There seemed to be calm everywhere with the absence of the normal hustling and bustling which usually characterised the festive periods.
However, tracing the history of Easter celebration before 2016, observations were made that Christians used to celebrate it in a bigger way in the past. As a matter of fact, it was perceived that Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have generally reduced their approach to the celebration of festivals. Why was there a low spirit towards this year’s Easter? Why were children not getting new dresses and shoes at this time? And why were traders not smiling to the bank?
Some Nigerians have blamed the cause of the low disposition towards this year’s Easter celebration on the poor economic situation coupled with the scarcity of fuel in the country.
Okosun Iredia, 51, a trader, thinks that the economic situation in the country has gone so bad that the masses can no longer afford three square meals.
He then reached the conclusions that if Nigerians can not afford to feed well, why will they remember to celebrate festive periods? Iredia had nostalgia for the era when Nigeria still had almost everything going for her.
He remembered a time, back in his village, Afuda in Edo State, when as a child; his parents would have started the preparation for Easter three days to the D-Day.
“I will say that the situation in the country, economic wise is really bad. In fact, it’s worse than in the olden days when we were younger and our parents would have started preparing for Easter three days before. Things were much easier then, not now that Nigerians can’t even afford a three-square meal. How can a hungry man who is still thinking of how to survive remember to make preparation for a festive period? President Muhammadu Buhari should do something about this before Nigerians become a set of boring people who don’t even know how to unwind and celebrate” , he said
Sunday Market situated around Wempco Road, Ogba, Lagos, is known for it’s specialisation on food items like rice, beans, garri and groundnut/palm oil.
Traders who were opportune to secure mini-shops in this densely populated Ogba area enjoy massive patronage as buyers from within and outside its environs troop in all day to buy stuffs in larger quantities every Sunday.
Traders in Ogba, especially get more buyers as the market has been known to sell raw food items at cheaper prices than others who sell at nearby markets like Agege , Alade and even Oshodi markets.
When our reporters visited Sunday Market to witness buying and selling activities at this Easter period, it was a shock to see that some sellers were idle. Some could even afford to leave their shops to a different location at a time when all hands ought to be on deck. Buyers just strolled into the market like every day, no rush, no noticeable increase in the number of buyers, just the usual “customer come and buy” slogan.
Approaching a rice seller simply identified as Mama Taiba, she complained of usual sale with no increase in prices of goods. For instance, a bag of rice which sold between ten thousand to thirteen thousand naira depending on quality still remained the same.
At Agege Market, itemed like fresh tomatoes and pepper, onions seemed to have flooded the market with sellers almost forcing and dragging buyers for patronage.
“Nothing special about this period o! In fact, I don’t think Christians take Easter seriously again,” a tomato and pepper seller told the reporter as she hurried to attend to a customer.
Meat, fish and turkey sellers were not left out in the struggle as they dish out patronage calls to buyers who flocked the market in good numbers as usual. The only difference is that 1kg of Turkey which sold for N800 now goes for N870. Yet, buyers seemed to be undaunted by the huge status-difference between Turkey and fish, as most prefer to go for iced fishes.
Another sight to behold, as market activities went on at Ifako Market, was that buyers who would usually opted for fresh tomatoes now rushed the smashed ones. A conversation which went on between a pepper seller, Mama Yusuf, and one of her customers whom she later described as a banker, was overheard. The banker who was decked in a well cut blue jeans and blouse with slippers to match, came for the usual day’s ‘game’. But when she approached Mama Yusuf to purchase some pepper and tomatoes, it wasn’t business as usual for the seller who was already smiling at her dedicated customer from afar.
“Ah, customer, welcome! How is work?)”
“Fine o,” the banker replied. “Make I sell your usual (should I package your usual demand)?”, Mama Yusuf asked enthusiastically. The banker settled for smashed tomatoes instead of her usual. Trying to know why the banker lady had gone for the inferior tomatoes instead of her usual, Mama Yusuf quickly summed, “this Easter no pay at all. It’s like there’s no money in the country at the moment. You sure say Nigerians even remember Easter at all? Abi na the fuel when dey scarce to buy. Na God go help us ooo”