•Abuja residents in colourful celebration, bleak season

From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja

Considering the harsh economic climate in Nigeria, many Abuja resident had concluded that this year’s Sallah would witness a low-key celebration. But it was not totally the case.

Many families did not let the hard times rob them the chance to enjoy the glitz and glam the season offers.

Rather than cocooning at home, they flooded various fun hubs.

That was the pleasant surprise that greeted Daily Sun at various gardens, amusement parks and other recreation centres. They were packed full with vivacious youths, parents and children.

At the Magic Land Amusement Park, overlooking the National Stadium, a large crowd of people of all age groups and statuses trooped in and out to have fun.

Many retailers, especially those in the food and drink business made brisk sales. In the evening of the Sallah day, the entire park was bursting at the seams.

It was the same scenario at the Gateway ShopRite on the Airport Road.

It was packed to the rafters as shoppers feasted on virtually all the goods on display.

Few days preceding the Sallah bore good tidings for clothes and footwear dealers in the Wuse Market. They witnessed an unusual influx of buyers. Ahmed Musa, a footwear dealer in the market, said the spike in the number of shoppers was a good development for them: “The large crowd here does not mean things are not hard. For me, this is still the toughest Ramadan and Sallah celebration. In previous years, we ate more during Ramadan than ordinary days. But this year, we couldn’t even get anything, especially during the early stage which was frustrated by the cash crunch.”

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A shopper, Ahmed Khalifa: “I came here to shop, but things were so expensive. I had to cut my budget and exclude a lot of things from the list my wife gave me. There were a lot of things that I needed to buy but could not because the cost had skyrocketed and gone way beyond what my wife and I had in mind.”

One of the security men at the mall said: “Majority of the crowd you see are just kids coming for sightseeing. They are not making purchases. A lot of people also come with their families to just look around and take pictures. Although they would have loved to buy some of the nice things here  but they can’t afford the prices.”

Madam Rabi Abubakar, a mother of four was at Magic Land and shared her experience: “The economic situation in the land is not friendly at all. We just managed to do the ones we have done.

“Though this is not big Sallah but to me, this is the time I extend my hands of fellowship to the less privileged through my small charity work and help them in the breaking of the fast. But this year, I was not able to settle my home, talk more of extending to the needy. I just brought the kids to the park so that they will have the feeling of the festive season.”

Halima Sani from Jabi said: “Is it not when you have eaten that you can give to others? The economic situation in the country is too harsh, even feeding your immediate family is now a problem. I normally share food with neighbours during festive periods like this but this one is with a difference because I couldn’t. I don’t have the money to do that.

“During Ramadan, you even invite friends that are not Muslim to break your fast. But this year, it was very difficult for the immediate family talk more of inviting others.”

At the Fun Park, Sadiya Adamu said: “I came with my friends to look around to help me forget my sorrows. I am cash-strapped this Salah. My friends and I wish to buy ice cream and shawarma but we can only afford popcorn.

“Even the tickets for roller coasters hitherto N500 is now N1,000. In the past, my friends and me would have tried at least four to five before going home. Today we will just do one and go home.”

Traders in othe markets also lamented poor sales during the celebration. Mama Kelechi Adigibe, Dutse Market, said: “Sales were so poor that even ordinary periods were better. I have never seen this type of fasting and Sallah before.

“This one no one is buying anything, it is shocking. It started with the cashless challenges. Now that they have released the cash, no business. Everywhere is so dry, nothing is functioning.”

Another trader, Jones Ayo, said: “Ramadan used to be one of my best periods because I live among Muslims. It’s a season of love, care and sharing.

“But this one is so different. No one invited me to come and share in the love of the feast and sales are low. We couldn’t sell anything. I pray after this handover, things would take a new look.”