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Buyers, sellers lock horns at Maiduguri ram markets

With less than three weeks to Sallah, most residents of Maiduguri have expressed worry that they may not afford to slaughter rams unless a miracle…

With less than three weeks to Sallah, most residents of Maiduguri have expressed worry that they may not afford to slaughter rams unless a miracle happens. Livestock dealers said livestock are scarce and very expensive, as all the borders linking Nigeria to neighbouring Cameroun, Chad and Niger republics, where the livestock are sourced, are difficult to access.
A popular livestock merchant at the biggest livestock market in Maiduguri, Kasuwan Shanu, known for importing especially rams when it is close to Sallah from nearby countries, Alhaji Adam Buduma, lamented that Maiduguri which used to be a hub for livestock trade can no longer provide enough rams for local consumption during Sallah.
“When you go round the market now, you will see a handful of rams as against the hundreds you will find around this time before the insurgency. Most of the rams you will find in the market now are the very few found in some villages yet to be raided by the insurgents and rustlers. You can never find the home bred rams that are heavy and attractive.
“People hardly rear animals in commercial quantities these days because of insurgency. More than half of the population of the state are now staying in the state capital as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The spaces to rear the animals at home are also occupied by the IDPs. You might have observed that majority of the pilgrims performing this year’s pilgrimage from the state are not keen in buying rams before they depart for the Holy land,” he said.
Alhaji Buduma said although for almost three years now they have not been able to import livestock from nearby countries, “The situation will be worse this year because so many people do not have money, and the animals are also very scarce. In the past, people start buying their rams about five weeks before Sallah. The market will be very busy but look at it now, less than 3 weeks to Sallah, and no patronage.”
Another livestock merchant, Mahamat Al-Amin, said some livestock were recently brought into Maiduguri from some villages around Monguno and Baga but most of the rams were too hungry-looking and weak to be used for Sallah, saying, “the rams were brought from places they could not graze very well for fear of insurgents and rustlers. The rams were not well fed and had little or no medical attention.
“Our hope for good market lies on the state government, if they can empower the civil servants. My fear is that Sallah will be coming mid-September when workers have already spent their August salary and are yet to receive that of September. Well, we are waiting to see what will happen. But definitely, the few good rams available are very expensive.”
Alhassan Umar, a lecturer at one of the tertiary institutions in Maiduguri, was at Kasuwan Shanu to sell four of his home-grown rams and told this reporter that he actually reared 7, adding, “I sold two of them to my colleagues and decided to keep one for the Sallah. I have been doing this business for six years now. I bought some of them at N12,000 each last April. They are pricing them N85,000 now, but remember the feed is also expensive.
“They are very healthy because there was a veterinary doctor looking after them. I feed them well despite the high cost of feed. Anybody that buys my rams will know that he has bought something good that he will surely enjoy. I rear them at my backyard in the quarters. It is almost becoming my hobby and I’m also making money from it.”
Those at the receiving end are the buyers who must either buy to fulfil their religious requirement or/and to satisfy the family need. Malam Yesufu Lawani, a para-military officer, said he visited the market twice before he was able to buy a ram of N65,000 for a family of 13.
“When I phoned my wife in Edo and told her that I may not be able to buy ram this Sallah, she told me that the children have already told their Christian friends that I will be coming home with ram for the Sallah and they have all started jubilating, so I became confused. I have not received my salary. It was my friend Alhaji Modu that gave me N50,000 which I made up to buy the ram.”
Unlike Lawani who intends to carry his ram from Maiduguri to Igarra in Akoko Edo for the Sallah, some staff of various federal government agencies at the federal secretariat in Maiduguri went to Tungushe market, about 18 kilometres from Maiduguri, to buy their rams.
Alhaji Salawu Ajada said they got the rams cheaper at Tungushe though they look very hungry and poorly kept, saying, “We have de-wormed them and are feeding them well. It is our hope that they will look good before the Sallah.
 

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