This year’s Eid-el-Kabir which is marked with the slaughter of animals is around the corner. Muslim faithful are in high spirits to relish the celebration and joy that accompany the annual festival.
The news of the celebration is already in the air. In less than two weeks time, the festivity will be observed across the world when Muslim worshippers will have another dose of the spiritual blessings that come with it.
In Muslim parlance, the festival called Eid-el-Kabir is the most important feast in the Muslim calendar because it is an occasion to celebrate the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, in submission to Allah’s command.
One thing that is remarkable about the festival is the slaughtering of rams by the faithful as a part of religious obligation to demonstrate belief in Prophet Ibrahim’s submission to Allah through sacrifice.
A typical Muslim’s joy of the season is the ability to afford a ram to fulfil the awesome obligation. But prices of livestock that have hit the sky have begun to send jitters into the spines of the faithful due to the biting economy and attendant hardship.
Market checks by our correspondents have indicated that the high cost of rams which has been attributed to scarcity occasioned by insecurity is threatening the usual fulfilment that usually comes with the festival.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that rams bought between N85,000-N90,000 last year now go for between N150,000-250,000, while those bought at N250,000 are now selling for between N350,000 and N400,000.
The high price is against the backdrop of the current inflation, which has prompted a hike in the prices of other commodities.
In Maigatari it’s rams everywhere, but few buyers
The high cost of rams in Maigatari International Market, a border local government area in Jigawa State, scares customers.
The average cost of ram in the market has gone up to between 30 per cent and 40 per cent this year, compared to last year’s prices. Dealers and buyers are lamenting the astronomical increase. They express fears that many worshippers won’t be able to afford rams to celebrate the festival.
Alhaji Lukman Babalola, a ram dealer from Lagos said: “To be frank with you, the price of ram this year is much higher, compared to the last year’s. I have been in this business for a long time now and this year’s appears to be different. They are telling us that it is because of the high cost of living, which has also affected the cost of feeding the animals, coupled with the fall in the value of the naira.
A ram that we bought for between N85,000-N90,000 last year is now going for between N150,000-250,000 now, while the ones we were buying for N250,000 are going for between N350-N400,000 this year.”
Another dealer, Malam Sabi’u Yusuf said: “The prices are high, compared to last year’s. This is as a result of the high cost of living and how we bought the rams from the Niger Republic.”
He added: “The price of rams in this year is higher when compared to last year’s price. Now, we sell a ram for between N120,000-N150,000. We even sell some rams for between N500,000-N520,000.”
A member of Ram Dealers’ Association, Maigatari branch, Alhaji Mai Ungwa Adu’a, attributed the high price to the drop in the value of the naira, compared to the CFP of Niger Republic.
“200 CFP equals N1,000 if you change naira and bring goods from the Niger Republic. That is why there is an astronomical rise in prices beyond expectation. Compared to last year, there are serious increases in the prices of rams. The increase is in the neighbourhood of 30-40 %.
“People who intend to slaughter rams for this year’s Sallah have to buy according to the size of their pockets. There are those that can buy small ones, while some people can buy big ones."
Dealers blame black market sellers in Abuja
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, it is both scarcity and high cost of livestock that may lead to a low key celebration of the festival.
Daily Trust Saturday’s visit to some livestock markets across the territory, observed that only an insignificant quantity of cattle such as rams, goats, sheep and cows were available and at exorbitant prices.
Some ram buyers in Suleja lamenting the hike in prices
At Old Abattoir in Garki, on Nyanya-Mararaba Road, Gwagwalada, Madalla and Anagada cattle markets, the price of livestock in the area have skyrocketed by 85 per cent.
A ram seller at Old Abattoir, Usman Yahuza attributed the scarcity to the insecurity challenge in the North.
Yahuza added that some communities where dealers buy rams from have been under siege by the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
“I usually travel to Mai Aduwa Village in Katsina State to buy rams in large quantities. I hire vehicles to convey them to Abuja. But kidnappers and bandits attacked the community and displaced some people. This led to scarcity and high cost of rams,” he said.
He blamed the high cost on the economic hardship which has also led to a hike in transport fares.
“Drivers charge between N1,500 and N2,000 per ram. A big ram which sold for N120,000 now sells between N200,000 and N250,000, while a medium-size which used to be N60,000 and N75,000 now goes for between M100,000 and 120,000,” he said.
He added that the medium size goats which sold for between N20,000 and N25,000 now sells for N30,000 and N40,000. He attributed the situation to the high cost of transportation and insecurity.
A goat meat seller, Alfred James, said that he usually bought three to four goats and sold them to customers at N1,400 per kilogram, but now sells them for N1,700 due to the high cost of goats.
At Anagada Livestock Market located along Gwagwalada-Zuba -Abuja-Lokoja highway, only a few rams, goats and cows were on the ground. A ram seller, Abdullahi Umar, attributed the scarcity to insecurity from the areas where rams are conveyed to Anagada Market.
“In fact, most of the rams and goats that you see here are usually brought from Maigatari in Jigawa State and Ilela in Sokoto State, but because of the security challenge in the areas, some truck drivers are scared to go to the villages to convey rams and goat,” he said.
“Even if a driver agrees to go, he will charge a high fare price per ram or goat. This contributes to the scarcity and high cost of ram and goats in the market,” James said.
A ram seller in the market, Ibrahim Ishaq, also attributed the cost to the insecurity in the North.
Ishaq said that he always brought rams and goats from Shinkafi in Zamfara State.
He lamented that the security situation in the areas had discouraged some drivers from going to some of the communities to convey the animals to the market in Abuja.
Ishaq also blamed some top politicians for the scarcity and high cost.
“There are some politicians who buy rams in large quantities at once to distribute to the needy which, I believe, also contributes to the scarcity,” he said.
The Chairman of Anagada Cattle Market, Abubakar Tahir, also attributed the scarcity and high cost to the insecurity in the North.
Tahir who, however, allayed fears of insecurity and scarcity of the animals said:
“We slaughter not less than 200 and 400 goats per day for customers that sell per kilograms. We are expecting more of that in the next few days, We believe that security in those areas will improve before Sallah.”
He added that that the market still witnessed an influx of customers from Mararaba, Nyanya, Kubwa, Dei-Dei, Zuba, Madalla and other places to buy rams and goats.
At Gwagwalada livestock market along Abuja-Lokoja Road, a medium size of ram which sold between N40,000 to N60,000 now sells for N50,000 and N85,000.
Only a few rams and goats were available when our reporter visited the market.
Malma Kabiru Dahiru, a ram seller at the market, blamed the scarcity on the activities of some black marketers.
“Some people we call ‘black marketers come to the market and connive with the main owners of the ram and add a little amount to the price for customers so that they will get something for their pockets. But the market management has already banned them from coming to the market,” he said.
Scanty markets in Katsina
At Sabuwar Kofa livestock market in Katsina, business is at a low ebb compared to the past Sallah seasons.
The chairman of the stall, Saifullahi Jibril, fondly called Lali said:
“Each and every year comes with its own peculiarities. This year has come with economic hardship which does not only affect livestock but all other business sectors. A ram that cost N20,000 last year now costs nothing less than N30,000. This is about a 50 per cent increase.”
“Another factor for the low business is buyers’ poor turn out, compared to what obtained in the previous years. It is 20 days away from Sallah, but you can see how scanty the market is now, unlike in the past that the place was full of business activities at a season like this,” he added.
Ram market at Power-Line, Osogbo, Osun State
Jubril also blamed the situation on insecurity and the high foreign exchange rate.
In the previous years, he recalled, most livestock in the market were brought from the Niger Republic, but with the high foreign exchange rate and insecurity, the animals in the market are majorly homegrown.
“In the past, you could go to the Niger Republic, buy some livestock and bring them in here to make some profit, but nowadays, it has gone the other way round whereby the livestock are exported to the Niger Republic for profit,” Lali said.
He also confirmed the high prices which, he said, ranged from N30,000 to N50,000 for small ones; N60,000 to N90,000 for the medium ones, while bigger ones go for N100,000 and above.
“Here, I can show you that of N80,000, N130,000 and N150,000. We are hoping to get more before the Sallah day. But the situation, for the time being, is pathetic,” he said.
When our reporter visited the market, there was no single buyer.
But Lali said that buyers were probably waiting to observe the situation at the next Yar Kutungu Market day.
High cost, paucity of funds in Lagos, Ekiti
In Lagos and other states in the South West, too, prices of ram have risen astronomically.
Most markets where rams are sold are alive with business activities with sellers stockpiling the animals.
At the popular Alaba Rago Market in Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State where rams are sold in large quantities, many livestock were being offloaded from trucks ahead of expected rush sales.
Our correspondent observed a significant increase in the prices of rams when he visited the market.
Some traders lamented low patronage as most buyers complained of scarcity of funds.
Abdulrasheed Ibrahim, a ram dealer, complained of poor sales.
He said the increase in price was due to seasonal price fluctuation and scarcity of rams due to the insecurity situation in the country.
“A ram now sells for about N150,000 to N250,000, depending on the size. There is the likelihood that the price might go beyond that before the Sallah day,” he said.
The story is the same at Agege Market.
Mohammad Kazeem, a dealer, expressed optimism that business would pick up a few days before Sallah.
Muslim faithful in Ekiti are also lamenting the hike in the cost of rams in the state.
At livestock markets located along Ilawe Road in Ado-Ekiti as well as Sha Sha Market along Ado/Ikere Road, there are various sizes of rams that go for different prices.
A customer, Mallam Wasiu Ibrahim, said there were a few rams in the market.
“A ram that is big sells for between N100,000 and N120,000, while the average sizes are sold for between N70,000 and N100,000. There are some for N40,000 but they are very small,” he said.
Alhaji Ismailia Muhammadu said the price was expected to go higher as the festive period approached. He urged Nigerians to pray to God for provision to be able to meet their religious obligation.
At the Power-Line Ram Market in Osogbo, Osun State, ram sellers groaned over poor sales while buyers lamented high cost.
Sellers, however, expressed hope that patronage would improve before the festival.
One of them, Malam Basir Abdullah, told Daily Trust Saturday that big rams cost N100,000, while small ones cost N40,000.
“The increase in the price of ram is because of the insecurity situation in the country. We brought these rams from the North. It is a huge risk going to the northern part of the country nowadays due to the insecurity situation there,” he said.
Another seller, Alhaji Usman Seal, said that it was the increase in the prices of other goods that have affected the prices of rams too.
“There is no way the price of ram will not go up when the prices of all other goods have gone up. A ram that is okay and presentable costs at least N95,000,” he said.
Mr Abiodun Azeez, who was at the market to buy a ram, expressed surprise that the amount he had budgeted could not buy the size of the ram he wanted.
“I planned to buy a ram of N40,000 for my father for the Sallah celebration, but I realised that the one for that amount is small. I need to add more money to buy a presentable one,” he said.
“I planned to buy a ram of N40,000 for my father for the Sallah celebration but I realised that the ram of that amount is small. I need to add more money to buy a presentable ram,” he said.
Plenty rams, high cost in Suleja
In Suleja Town in Niger State, a ram seller, Gambo Isa, said ram farm and markets have been facing several challenges since this year. In Hadeja, Gujungu and Maigatari markets in Jigawa State, prices of rams have risen sharply despite massive availability in the markets.
He said that a ram bought at N15,000 to N20,000 last year is now between N25,000 and N30,000 this year.
“The N120,000 fare charged for half body trailer supplying rams from Jigawa State to Suleja last year has increased to N130,000 this year.
Another ram seller in the market, Malam Bawa Mikailu, complained of low patronage. He said that last year, they made about two supply trips due to high patronage, but were able to sell only 10 rams so far since last Monday.
A buyer in a makeshift ram market, Hajiya Maryam Shehu, said a ram she bought last year at N40,000 now sells for between N60,000 and N70,000 in the same market.
Sellers attributed the sharp increment in price to the increase in the price of animal feeds as well as insurgency which has continued to hamper access to ram farms.
Mohammed Abubakar (Dutse), Abubakar Sadiq Isah (Abuja), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Eugene Agha (Lagos), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti) & Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo) (Daily Trust)