Nigerians have continued to throng various markets across the country to shop for Christmas, which is being celebrated today.
This is despite the inflation and high cost of prices of food items in the country.
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To make workers happy, states like Kaduna, Niger, Kogi, Bayelsa, Edo, Gombe, Akwa Ibom and Lagos paid salaries ahead of the yuletide.
Kaduna even went the extra mile to pay workers bonus for the year.
A market survey conducted by Daily Trust revealed that the price increase was on general commodities, including livestock: goats, turkey, chicken and vegetables, compared to the prices a few months back.
The survey, carried out in Abuja, Jos, Kano, Lagos and Kaduna, indicated that the hike was caused by high price of animal feeds and shortage in the supply of other essential commodities due to the crises raging in some states in the North.
Happy celebration for Kaduna workers
Workers in Kaduna State are jubilating and smiling home this Christmas as the state government not only paid their outstanding two months salaries, but also approved the payment of end of year bonus to civil servants.
Our correspondent who spoke to some civil servants confirmed that they had received the payment of October and November salaries owed to them by the government. Some also confirmed receipt of the bonus.
Recall that Governor Nasir el-Rufai approved the payment of end-of-year bonus to civil servants in the state, ranging from 100 per cent of monthly pay for junior civil servants to 30 per cent for senior civil servants.
It was said that workers from grade levels 1 to 7 would be paid 100 per cent of their salaries as bonus. Middle level civil servants from grade level 8 to 13 will get 40 per cent, while senior officers on grade level 14 and above will receive 30 per cent of their monthly earnings. The 2021 end-of-year bonus will cost the state N1.382billion.
Speaking with Daily Trust Saturday, Mary Jatau said, “I was wondering how this year’s Christmas would turn out to be, especially because we were not paid for two months, but we thank God that the government paid us and even compensated us with the bonus.”
Workers paid in Niger
Civil servants in Niger State received December salary ahead of Christmas and New year celebrations.
Some civil servants who confirmed the payment to our correspondent said it started since December 22, 2021.
One of the civil servants, Mr Idris Kolo, said he received his salary the day payment started.
Another civil servant, Alhaji Shabako, also confirmed the payment.
Many of them said they used the money they got to buy clothes and foodstuff for their families.
In Jos, when our correspondent visited some major markets, prices of food items of all categories had seriously increased across the capital city.
At the Railway Bird market, the price of chicken has gone very high, with a broiler, which sold at N3,000 last month now selling at N5,000.
Yahuza Gano, the chairman of the bird section in the Railway market, told our correspondent that the price increased in all other categories of bird.
“The price of birds is very expensive at the moment. For example, a layer that we used to sell at N1,400 is now N3,000.
“For turkey, there is a wide difference between now and before. The turkey that we used to sell at N15,000 is now between N20,000 and N25,000. So, there is a general change in the prices of birds, especially this Christmas period,” he said.
Gano, however, attributed the hike to the price of feed, adding that the situation had resulted to low patronage of the products this year.
He said, “This time last year, I could sell more than 30 broilers or layers every day, but as I am talking to you now, I sold only two broilers since morming. The market is not encouraging at all.”
Our correspondent gathered from the Farin Gada market, where perishable items are sold, that the prices of tomatoes, onions, pepper, among other items, have also gone high.
Sale Ibrahim, whose sells perishable items, said, “A basket of tomatoes, which used to be sold at N1,500, is now N3,500. A basket of pepper sold at N600 is now N2,500. So, the prices of all perishable items have increased due to Christmas celebration.”
For other items, our correspondent gathered that a bag of foreign rice, which sold at N25,000 few months back, is now N29, 000.
A school teacher, Mary Samuel said she saved money in order to make her family happy. “ Christmas comes only once in a year and that is why I strived to take care of my children. We are all happy despite the high cost of living,” she said.
Low patronage in FCT amid scarcity
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), when Daily Trust visited major markets in Kubwa, Deidei, Utako and Nyanya, traders lamented low patronage, amidst scarce commodities.
A market survey at Kubwa abattoir revealed a sharp increase in the general price of commodities.
A poultry seller, Malam Nasiru Dabai, said a chicken that sold at N2,500 last week had increased to N4,000, while a pair of geese that sold at N20,000 previously is now N30,000.
Mustafa Lawan, a vegetable seller, said a measure of pepper sold at N800 and above against the previous N500.
A chicken trader, Bala Usman, gave the price of chicken (layers) between N2,500 and N3,000, while broilers cost between N2,500 and N5,000.
Bala explained that they were left with only few local chickens as a result of few supplies resulting from the unrest in some North-West states that usually produce them.
At the Deidei livestock market, Jamilu Saidu revealed that the price of goats, which used to witness high patronage during Christmas soared.
He attributed the shortage of goat supply to the closure of some rural markets in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
He said the price of goats ranged between N15,000 and N250,000, which is outrageous compared to what was obtained a few months back.
He said he-goats that cost N250,000 were special breeds reserved for top government officials who buy for special gifts.
“But I am yet to get patronage from my usual buyers, government agencies, companies or merchants from the South. The much I could see this year are those that buy like five to 10”, a goat dealer, Yakubu Sulaiman lamented.
At Nyanya market, a poultry dealer, Yau Ahmad, said they made so many bookings ahead of Christmas but there were no buyers.
“In anticipation, we made the bookings and payments to poultry farmers, but there are no usual customers, even on the eve of Christmas.
“It costs a lot to keep the poultry for such a long time, and in the process I would lose some of them to harmattan,” Ahmad lamented.
He said the prices of chicken soared as a result of the cost of feeding, causing many farmers to quit the business, while those that endure have to adjust the number of chicken under their care.
On food items, Shehu Ahmad, a rice dealer at Wuse market, Abuja, said a bag of 50kg of industrial processed rice is now sold N27,500, compared to N25,000 two weeks ago.
He said the upward trend in the price was due to the high demand from people who used to buy up to 20 bags and donate to their associates.
In Kano, Christian faithful lament hike in food price
Our correspondent who visited Yankura market in Kano, an offshoot of the popular Abubakar Rimi market, revealed that Christian faithful groan over hike in the price of the essential commodities.
Yankura market is the main market patronised by inhabitants of the Christian-dominated Sabon Gari area.
Daniel Momoh, a businessman, lamented the price hike, saying, “It is Christmas season but people are coming to pick few commodities because things are very expensive.
“People are suffering. Before now, on every December 20 you would not pass this road. But now, you can run. This is Yankura, where you find it hard to pass on a normal day,” he added.
Also lamenting, a businesswoman who did not want her name mentioned said, “People have no money to buy food. You would see people running about buying commodities when things were okay, but the purchasing power is now very low and the items are very expensive.”
Our reporter observed that from perishables to grains and other commodities, supply is steady but the prices are not friendly.
“The vegetables we used to buy N50 are now N100. People are really suffering.
“I don’t have anything to give my children because I am not making it. Not even clothes for them,” a buyer who doesn’t want to be named said.
When our correspondent went round Oshodi market and Oja Oke, the prices of food items varied.
Five litres of unbranded vegetable oil was sold at N5,000 while a branded oil sold at N7,000.
Also, 25 litres of unbranded oil sold at N27,500, maintaining the old price a month ago.
At the livestock section of the market, a chicken (layer) sold at N3,500, but last month, it was sold between N2,700 and N3,000.
She said the price of broiler, which was sold at N5,000 increased to N6,000.
She said the increment also affected other groceries. A 50kg bag of imported rice was sold at N29,000 as against the N27,000 it cost last month.
A bag of local rice is being sold at N28,000, but it was N26,000 in November.
In the vegetable section of the market, a bag of purple onions is now sold at N45,000 while the white type costs N60,000.
However, according to the survey, the prices of pepper and tomatoes are uncertain as market women maintain that the price varies.
“As at Tuesday, some baskets of tomatoes were sold at N18,000,” one of the traders said.
Customers groan in Niger
Prices of food items and animals also skyrocketed in Minna, the Niger State capital as Christians made last-minute purchases.
A market survey by Daily Trust Saturday revealed that due to last minute rush, prices of food items, especially rice and chicken, rose abruptly at major markets in Minna.
The price of a big bag of rice rose from N25, 000 to between N28,500 and N29,000 while the price of chickens increased from N2,500, N3,000 to N4, 000 and N5,000, depending on the sizes.
A customer, Victoria Ndagi, lamented the rising prices of chicken.
Also speaking, Mr Samson Gbangbagi, told our correspondent that he could not buy chicken for Christmas this year because of its high cost.
“We contributed money to buy cow, which we will slaughter and share. Each of us contributed N15,000,” he said.
According to Mr Olu Jacob, a former editor of The Next newspaper, whole sellers were responsible for price increase as they were going round buying chickens in bulk and reselling at high rates.
“Honestly, it is unfair. Marketers are taking advantage of people who are celebrating and making it more difficult for them. These people use periods of festivity for high sales. They usually take advantage of these periods and make a lot of profits,” he said.
A chicken seller who simply gave his name as Christopher attributed the hike in the prices of chicken to high cost of broilers and feeds.
Hamisu Kabir Matazu & Adamu Umar (Abuja), Ado Abubakar (Jos), Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano), Risikat Ramoni (Lagos), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo) & Bassey Willie (Yenagoa)