…Traders decry low patronage ahead #EASTER2021
Chukwudi Peters (Not real name) is a car dealer in Lagos. His life took a bad turn due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced a total shut down of the economy for the most part of 2020. This severely affected his income as the lockdown measures meant his business remained closed.
The COVID-19 also meant that he could not import cars into the country due to the high exchange rate and the strict COVID-19 measures put in place by most countries.
Prior to this time, Mr. Chukwudi told Nigeria Today that he was known to be a generous man who brings people together to merry during the Easter celebration but with the whole situation and business yet to still pick up, he has decided to celebrate Easter this year in a low-key manner with his immediate family.
Chukwudi’s story is not different from Mama Kemi’s, a foodstuff seller and a mother of seven in the Oshodi area of Lagos. Papa Kemi had lost his job to the pandemic and has yet to secure a new one. She told Nigeria Today that Since then, the family has had to depend on Mama Kemi’s meagre earnings to sustain themselves – a tough task.
These stories reflect the reality faced currently by most Nigerians because of the current tough economic situation of the country forcing many Nigerians to celebrate Easter on a lowkey – an important celebration in the Christian calendar to mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The situation is compounded by rogue inflation and a record 21.79 per cent food inflation, according to the latest National Bureau of statistics in the recently released Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Inflation report.
Easter and Market prices
With less than 72 hours to the 2021 Easter celebration, traders across markets have continued to lament that there is no sign of festivity in the country as patronage remained abysmally low.
Nigeria Today reporter Kehind Sallah visited some markets in Lagos and found that both traders and consumers have been unhappy with the current economic situation of the country as consumers could barely afford to buy goods because of the hike in prices.
She observed that the market were not in a festive mood as there was no hustling or bustling that usually mark the season.
In previous years, Easter celebration is always characterized by celebration among families, shopping, eating and drinking, visitation to recreational centres, and children are always excited to get new clothes to mark the celebration. Traders always look forward to the celebration due to the increased patronage that heralds the festivity. But with the current economic situation of the country, businesses are shutting down, even shops that are able to stock up have experienced poor patronage.
In an interview with one of the traders in Isolo Market, Oshodi/Isolo LCDA, a trader who gave her name as Iya Quadri lamented to our reporter that sales have been slow but hopefully it might pick up before Easter Monday. She said a sack of onions now sells between N18,000 to N22,000 compared to N35,000/N38,000. She said a basket of tomato sells for N10,000/N15,000 from N30,000/35,000, Red pepper now N18,000/20,000 while bell pepper sells for N10,000 to N12,000 from N40,000.
She said although the price seems low compared to what it was at the beginning of the month when foodstuffs were not allowed into the southern part of the country, the price is still on the high side due to the rising insecurity in the north and some other parts of the country.
Another trader Anuoluwapo, a frozen food supplier complained about the hike in food prices. She said the foreign exchange coupled with inflation has taken a toll on her business. She said she can only afford to buy few commodities with her capital as the money meant to buy a 100 carton can only be enough for less than 50 cartons. She said a carton of frozen turkey sells for N21,000 from N18,000, Chicken lap N16,000 from N12,500, chicken chest N17,000, soft chicken N15,000, Turkey shoulder N16,000.
She said a bag of foreign rice which is even scarce is N27,000 while local Nigerian rice N25,000.
A visit to the stall of those who sell live chicken also showed the same as they have also been experiencing low patronage. A fully grown live chicken sells between N6,500, N4,000, and N2,200.
Our reporter also spoke with some Christian faithful on how they intend to celebrate Easter. A Christian who gave his name as Mr. Bayo said, “I will just go to church on Easter Sunday to thank God for preserving my life, I will not travel for Easter because there is no money. A lot is happening in this country and we need to pray about it.”
However, another Christian who prefered anonymity said, “Easter cannot be compared to Christmas celebration where the atmosphere alone announces its arrival or when family members care more about buying clothes or filling the house with food. For now, some companies have started paying salaries, so we will have something to settle our home and have a good celebration.”