On the eve of Eid–el–Kabir, the cost of rams has soared to such a degree that many Muslims in northeast Nigeria will not be celebrating the feast of sacrifice – the most important festival – as they usually do.
The festival, also known as Eid ul Adha, is celebrated worldwide by Muslims and is marked by the slaughtering of rams and other livestock.
It commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son. But before Ibrahim could do so, Allah provided a lamb to sacrifice instead.
Because of the poor economic circumstances, many people left it to the last minute to buy a ram to sacrifice thinking the prices would go down.
Instead, they were shocked by the exorbitant prices. In one day the prices had soared. The price on Sunday was high. But the price on Monday, on the eve of Eid, was even higher.
A buyer, Muhammed Abubakar, said he did not buy a ram last week because he knew unscrupulous thieves might steal it. This had happened in the past and so he had decided to buy the ram at the last minute.
However, he said, he was shocked at the prices, which were high last week and even on Sunday. But on Monday, when he expected them to be lower, the prices had hiked even more.
Another buyer, Babagana Barde, said usually the prices of livestock dropped on the day before Eid because by then most people had already bought their sacrifice. But this year, the reverse happened, he said, and the prices had soared.
“The high cost of living, the hike in food prices have left little money in the hands of the people. But I had to buy the ram at the price that was demanded so that we could celebrate Eid in the proper way,” he said.
Baa Maidugu said many people could not afford to buy a ram because the prices of livestock had increased to such a degree. A ram that in the past would have cost 15,000 naira was now going for 45,000 naira. Some traders were asking even more than that. He said some rams were going for between 50,000 naira and 65,000 naira.
A ram seller said the hike of fuel and diesel had resulted in the high cost of transporting livestock. He said he and other livestock traders had been forced to put up the prices of the animals to make a profit. “Otherwise, we would be selling at a loss,” he said.
One seller attributed the high cost of livestock to the ongoing insurgency in the northeast. He said fewer people were able to farm because of the conflict, which meant fewer animals were being reared.
Another said the prices this year were much higher than last year. He said the high cost of living, which affected the cost of feeding animals, the fall in the value of the naira and the increase in the price of food had resulted in many people not being able to afford to buy rams.
“Some people cannot even buy food to put on their table every day, let alone buying a ram to celebrate the feast,” he said. “Many worshippers won’t be able to buy rams this year.”