How we celebrated Sallah despite economic crunch – FCT residents

Residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in this report recount how they celebrated this year’s Eid el-Kabir despite the economic crunch; TOPE SUNDAY writes.

This year’s Eid el-Kabir has come and gone. Muslims world over celebrated it in appreciation to God, and in fulfillment of their spiritual rights to God. However, this year’s Sallah was celebrated amidst an economic crunch. 

In what appears as a low-key celebration due to the hike in prices of ram, cow, tomatoes, pepper, and other condiments usually used to celebrate the festival, the Muslim faithful still gave glory to God and thanked Him for counting their among the living.

Bleak celebration

 Blueprint Weekend can report that some federal civil servants celebrated a bleak Sallah this year because of the reported non-payment of their June salary before the holiday for the 2023 Eid el-Kabir celebration. Also, the bleakness of the Sallah celebration can be linked to the increase in the pump price of petroleum products following President Bola Ahed Tinubu’s pronouncement of subsidy removal on May 29, during his swearing-in ceremony at Eagle Square, Abuja.

However, many saw the celebration as elusive because they struggled to grapple with rising inflation and low purchasing power, which have deprived them of basic needs for the festival celebration.

The survival

Despite the noticeable hike in the prices of commodities needed for the Sallah celebration, and skyrocketed transport fare, Abuja residents joined other Muslims the world over to celebrate the festival with pomp and pageantry.    

Speaking with this reporter, an Abuja resident, Mr. Aliyu Usman, who hails from Niger state, said though he did not travel to his state of origin for the Sallah celebration, lamented the high cost of transport fare in the FCT.

Usman said: “Well, I have always celebrated my Sallah here in the FCT. My family is here; my mother and father are all here in the FCT. Likewise, all my siblings are FCT residents. So, FCT is home. Therefore, I didn’t have to travel to my supposed state of origin for Sallah. It has been like this for over thirty years now.

“However, I have had to deal with the high cost of local transportation and logistics within the FCT during this festive period.  From my base to my family house in Kuje, the cost of transportation has almost doubled. It cost me 30% more than a human passenger to transport a ram from Zuba Park to Kuje on Sallah eve.

 “Meanwhile passengers themselves lamented the almost 80 per cent increase over the initial cost of transport before the removal of subsidies and the attendant inflation. The general increment in the cost of living is especially telling on food prices and everyday items. One has to practically cut down on the usual expenditure to survive. In some cases, a particular item or service has to be totally forgotten.

“Notwithstanding, I understand where the entire hardship is coming from. It is circumstantial, and I know that in the fullness of time when the economy is fully adjusted to the policies of the new administration, things will normalise.”

For his part, a civil servant, Rasak Saka, said he was disappointed that the federal government did not pay the June salary of its workers before the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, adding that the development forced some of them into a tight corner.

Saka, who said he could not travel because of the development, told our Reporter that despite that, he was full of praises to God for His mercies over him and his family.

“My name is Rasak Alapoti Saka and happy Eid el Mubarak to all Muslims. All civil servants were disappointed by the federal government over its failure to pay salaries during this period of Sallah festivities. Unlike what happens every December, when salaries are paid in good time, the same gesture was not extended to us during the Sallah period when workers needed their salaries to buy items for their families despite the current economic situation in the country.

“Many civil servants were not able to provide for the needs of their families for Sallah festivities because their salaries were not paid. There are many lessons to learn from this historical event, which include:

 First, there are bound to be trials (call it tension, if you like), which are part of life, and individuals need the patience to overcome them. See Quran 2 vs. 155 and Quran 29 vs.1-2).

“We need to be patient with the government, as they look for solutions to the current economic downturn and security challenges. Prophet Ibrahim had patience and trust when he was praying for a child. Secondly, we need high trust, faith, and total obedience to Allah, as demonstrated by Ibrahim (AS). This endears one to Allah and qualifies one for His blessings. We should ask ourselves whether we are truly doing all these.

“Thirdly, loyalty and cooperation help to overcome tension. Ibrahim and his son agreed in all sincerity that God’s Will be done. Though hard to do, their tension turned into a big relief in the end. Nigerians should agree to live together in peace and sincerely join hands together to develop the nation. Eid al-Adha celebrations encourage us to forgive and give, to share and care. This lesson should be reflected in our daily lives.

“As God makes the sacrificial animal submit to us, we should also submit our ego to the Creator. One big problem we have is a class distinction. Once we see everybody as an important stakeholder in the Nigeria Project, then our challenges will become history. May Allah accept our offerings,” he said.

Another resident, Ahmed Mubaraq, said because of the non-availability of the fund, he joined other two Muslim brothers to slaughter a cow, which according to him, was a bit economical.

“I give all praises to Allah for another opportunity to celebrate this year’s Eid el-Kabir. Though there was no money because our salary as a federal civil servant was not paid before the Sallah, I managed to raise N70, 000 to purchase a ram. After two days to the Sallah, I was unable to get a ram that was reasonable for N70, 000; I decided to join two of my Muslim brothers to buy a cow worth N210, 000. This year, things are too expensive, particularly the Rams. May God accept us and our supplication.”