By Vera Anyagafu
Nigerians celebrate Christmas amidst economic hardship
“Everything is sadly getting off the common man’s reach. Imagine Christmas is here and Nigerians are faced with hardship and very low purchasing power, which has taken over the cheering impact of the season. Iru ki l’eyi,”, meaning: What sort of thing is this?
This exclamation explains the frustration of Mrs. Grace Oyekunle, a social critic, who spoke to Newsbeats few hours to Christmas celebration.
Grace described preparations for this year’s Christmas as the worst she is experiencing in her 45 years of living, saying that the only thing that can make one know Christmas is here is the hammartan season.
“The increasing prices of foodstuff and commodities can be sustained by only those who steal public funds. They are the ones that can afford a luxurious Christmas celebration this year”, Grace said, noting that in spite of promises made by the Federal Government towards alleviating citizens’ difficulties, the present economic situation of the country which has brought untold hardship, is taking a hard toll on Nigerians, making Christmas season dull and almost non-existent.
Also lamenting the situation, a secondary school teacher in Ekiti state who pleaded anonymity, said he came to Lagos state to see if he could get some money and food stuff from his elder brother. He told Newsbeats that, “Till this time, I am still praying and hoping to get a way out of the difficulties I’m facing . Even if I skip some personal things, I still have to provide food and clothes for my wife and children, “Although, we understand economic recession is having huge effect on every sector of the economy, the same situation does not affect politicians, following their listless allowances”, Our leaders are indeed very insensitive and inconsiderate”, he said, decrying the inhumane attitude of the government, which is worst now that election campaign is ongoing.
At Agbara market, one of the popular markets in Ado-Ado Ota Local government Area of Ogun state, Mrs Ogulana, whose outfit deals on decorations, confectionery, events and planning, disclosed that December and the last quarter of the year have always been the climax of social events and activities, but since September, the demand for her services has not improved.
According to her, it is not as if people do not want her services, but they keep complaining there is no money.
Ogulana, whose warehouse is stocked with various designs suggestive of the Christmas season, further stated that the products, purposely produced for the Christmas season, have been in her showroom for the past two months.
She however blamed the economic downturn on the failure of government to implement good policies that would make positive impact on the citizens, saying that, “The season is very dull compared to other Christmas celebrations in the past. The reality now does not allow any form of flamboyant and or flavored celebrations.
Speaking also to Newsbeats, Folashade, a beverage trader in Ikotun market, said the costs of beverages are unimaginably skyrocketing by the day..
“In fact, people are not even buying. It is pathetic. This is not usual at all and something has to be done about it,” she said.
A customer, Charles, told Newsbeats that he would not have been seen close to shopping if not for his newly born baby.
He said the common man is suffering and things were good until when this government came into power.
“They are canvassing now for a second tenure, but that cannot be possible, looking at the unfixed economy and that of every other sector in the country. Why won’t traders complain of downturn and low patronage? This is my worst Christmas ever,” he lamented.
A jewelry seller, Mrs. Okpagu and dealer on children’s wears, Mrs. Iweka, both at Trade Fair Market, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, also expressed disappointment over the low patronage during this year’s Christmas season.
According to Iweka, “I took loans to stock my shop hoping that there will be high patronage and now it has negatively impacted on my business. As you can see, people are not buying goods for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.”
Okpagua in turn said, “Even those that come to buy, end up negotiating below the cost price. On Saturday 22nd, a customer came in and after haggling prices, she said, ‘Christmas is just one day and before one knows it, it is gone. My children and I would have to do with what we have, after all, it is not mandatory we wear jewelries’ and she walked away.”
Felix, a trader on cosmetics, and hair products, also at Trade Fair mark said sales have not been entirely bad, as many women, and young ladies will not have a Christmas without a new hairdo.
“In all, sales were better in the last Christmas seasons because products were not as expensive as they are now, but women still buy their synthetic and human hair extensions, although, with enormous complaints of irrational price increase on items. Also, I can say that sales are not bad for me and there is a clear difference between now and regular seasons,” Felix added.
However, Nigerians, amidst these hurdles, still join Christians around the world in the global celebration of the birth of Christ, which is usually a colorful celebration with lots of activities as it also marks the end of the year.
In line with this, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has assured of better days ahead as Nigerians celebrate the yuletide, while giving hope that Nigeria will definitely prevail on its trails.
Similarly, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy Ike Ekweremadu have both urged Nigerians to emulate the great virtues of humility, love, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation in line with birth and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, even as these seemingly well meaning Christmas messages come from our leaders amid distasteful narratives of expected sour Christmas celebration for many Nigerians, some will give anything to practicing some weird Christmas traditions in the run-up to the biggest festive holidays in the country.