Okwe Obi and Charity Nwakaudu
The nativity of Jesus Christ, known as Christmas, is an annual ritual celebrated every December 25 by Christians across the world. It is also a season of giving, receiving gifts and show of affection to the less privileged.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, the Christmas festivity was a mixed grill for residents. While some enjoyed themselves to the fullest, others gnashed their teeth and scratched their heads because of the insufficiency of what to eat or drink; a problem they attributed to economic crunch.
Many homes, public places were decorated with flowery lights. Roads were free of traffic because hordes of residents had travelled outside Abuja. Those who stayed back were busy blasting bangers known as knockouts polluting the environment.
Commercial drivers hiked transportation fare. From Galadimawa to Banex which used to be N1000 climbed to N2000 for a drop. While the long bus called El-Rufai was conspicuously absent leaving commuters stranded and groaning. The weather was clement. But the sun scourged.
The closure of the land border resulted in the increase in the cost of rice. A 50kg bag of local rice went as high as N25, 000 while a “mudu” a litre equivalent was sold for N700, making it difficult for most people to purchase. A chicken, which ordinarily sells for N2500 rose to N5000.
A mother of three residing at Lugbe, Ruth Adeka, said: “We thank God that we are opportune to see this year’s Christmas, but it is not what it used to be. I developed headache in the market when I was trying to minimize what I had on me to get the family presentable food for the celebration.
“We are all used to the price of rice but the most alarming one was the price of meat especially chicken. You cannot believe that chickens that are normally sold at N1,500, were sold from N4,000 and above. It was not easy at all and because of that, I was not able to share food with neighbours. It was stressful and embarrassing but we bless God for gift of life.”
For another respondent who lives in Kubwa, John Otaogba, he had to avoid sleeping in his house on the Christmas Eve because of the war that brewed in his house due to his inability to meet up their needs:
“The war started on December 24 when I took my wife and children to the park to travel to Port Harcourt. To my greatest surprise the fair that used to be N7, 000, rose to N14,000, so I told them we should return home. Since then, my wife and children did not allow me to rest in the house. She refused to cook or talk to me likewise the children.
“I had no choice than to leave the house because I don’t want to explain what happened. I could not pay N14,000 for four people, on road or by air or are they traveling to heaven? I did not come to labour for other people in Abuja.”
In another development, a one room self-contained at Dogon gada, would have been razed due to the carelessness of the occupant, Christian, (not real name) who forgot his pot of stew on the fire and went out.