At some of the markets, unsold rams littered every inch of ground. The traders looked gloomy, as they appeared helpless on how to recover their losses.
It is a few days after Eid el-Kabir, but many traders dealing in rams still have bitter tales to tell.
Instead of smiling to the bank after a season of bumper sales, as it has always been in the past, many dealers are singing different songs. Their rams are staring them in the face, as they gnash their teeth and count their losses.
It was supposed to be a season of celebration but the economic realities of the country ushered in some twists. Consequently, many people failed to perform the symbolic slaughtering of rams and other animals, in accordance with Islamic rites, all to the detriment of the sellers.
As a tradition, every year, Muslim faithful troop to the markets to buy rams to celebrate Eid el-Kabir, one of the festivals celebrated by Muslims all over the world. The season is usually associated with prayers, sacrifice and exchange of gifts, mostly from the rich to the less privileged.
But the current economic realities seemed to have distorted the common practice.
Daily Sun visited some markets in Lagos on Wednesday and discovered that there were rams everywhere. Their owners patiently waited for buyers to come, even as hope dimmed every passing minute. The low patronage this year was not unconnected with the fact that the prize of rams increased beyond the reach of many Muslims. The size of ram sold for N65,000 in 2017 was sold for N85,000 this year. Many described the hike as a punishment on the average Muslim.
The price of rams in most markets ranged between N35,000 and N90,000, unlike in previous years when they cost between N17,000 and N70,000, depending on the size and the bargaining power of the buyer.
However, in some places, it was mixed blessings for cattle sellers. Those who said they were smart in this season’s trade revealed that they only purchased a few rams, having foreseen the declining buying power of prospective buyers.
At Amuwo Odofin Estate, Zone Six, a ram seller, Alhaji Mogaji Danjuma, was excited as he told the reporter that his forecast worked well for him. According to him, he suspected that the harsh economic climate would hinder many people from buying rams this year. Out of the 22 rams he brought, he was able to sell 19 by Wednesday.
At some of the markets, unsold rams littered virtually every inch of ground. The traders looked gloomy, as they appeared helpless on how to recover their losses. When asked how they intended to sell the remaining rams, they said they were only looking up to Allah, who would gradually help to sell to individuals who might need rams for different purposes.
A trader at the Agege ram market, Garba Danladi, one of the traders, said: “This year’s business did not favour me. I still have about 12 rams that l am yet to sell and the Sallah is over. It looks as if many people did not kill ram this year, that is why the sales are low. Some of my colleagues in other markets were also affected by the low patronage. The problem now is that l have to sell them later at a reduced price, which is shortage for me. As you can see, there is no longer demand. The price is usually high when the demand is high. People hardly buy it except those in the restaurant business.
“Meanwhile, I cannot question Allah because He knows best. That is business. One does not gain all the time. We cannot blame the buyers for refusing to patronise us. Things are tight for all families. I will recover my loss next year, insha Allah.”
A trader at the Ijaiye ram market in Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Lagos, Ibrahim Suleiman, attributed the high price to the crises in the North-East, as well as the high cost of transporting the animal to Lagos.
Said he: “Many things caused the low sales that we experienced this year. Most of the rams consumed in Nigeria during Sallah celebration are reared in the northern part of the country. To bring one ram from Kano State to Lagos costs about N13,000, depending on the size. Just last year, one could transport a ram from Kano with just N6,000 or N7,000. When we complain, the commercial drivers would say we should not complain because the end user would bear all the cost. But most of us sellers are now left to bear the losses. Another reason may be that there is no money in town.
Another seller at Ijaiye, Abdullahi Yakubu, said: “The security situation in the North did not also help matters. Though the insecurity started some years ago, we are now feeling the impact of the disaster. People have been consistently leaving the region to the South for other businesses. The people taking the risk there will ensure that they sell higher and the rest of us don’t have any other choice than to accept their price.”
Also at the market, a ram seller, Alhaji Hamisu Isiaka, said: “I brought 55 rams from Kano to Lagos this year but l could only sell 33. This year is worse than last year because I sold almost all the 70 l brought last year. I have been coming to sell rams in this market for the past 10 years, but this year is the worst I have seen. I don’t even know how to sell the remaining 18 rams, which are worth about N700,000. If you decide to return them to Kano, you will have to pay another transport fare to do so. This will further add to the cost price. I am really confused.”
Other major ram markets in Lagos, such as Agege Abattoir, Ijora Olopka and Wasai Orile, were also hit by the poor sales. It was the opposite of the bumper sales recorded in previous years. Many of the sellers’ joy knew no bounds last year, which prompted them to buy more this year. But they were disappointed at the end of the day.
Alhaja Sikirat Ajagun, a trader in the Abule-Egba area of Lagos, said it was the first time in 20 years that she would not slaughter a ram at Eid el- Kabir. She said she tried all she could to get the money for a ram this year, regretting that all her efforts yielded no positive result.
“All my relatives and friends were somehow disappointed that there was no ram from me this year. But l cannot kill myself because of ram. In some years, l got money or ram as a gift from those l have helped in the past, but all avenues failed this year. Apart from the ram, you have to buy other ingredients that are needed to prepare the food. If God keeps us till next year, He will provide money and we shall celebrate more years ahead,” she said.
Investigation also showed that many people decided to be more rational in their expenditure this year. Many families preferred to skip the Sallah expenses and keep the money for their children’ school fees, as schools resume for a new session in a few weeks.