Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Doors of government offices, banks and other corporate organisations are expected to reopen for official business Wednesday, following the two-day Sallah holiday declared by the Federal Government.
The holiday was to allow Muslims in Nigeria join their counterparts across the world to celebrate the annual Eid el-Kabir.
The city centre of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), was for the most part deserted during the holidays due to the mass exodus of the residents who had travelled out of the Nigerian capital to spend the holidays with family and friends.
A cross section of residents who could not travel claimed to have enjoyed the holidays in Abuja, while others were unhappy that the country’s economic downturn had imposed a low key celebration on them, with gratitude to God for a “bomb free” Sallah celebration.
Daily Sun visited major motor parks in Abuja on Tuesday afternoon and observed an increase in private and commercial vehicles returning to the city.
Daily Sun gathered from an official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), identified as Yunusa, that the “bad economic” situation in Nigeria had greatly affected this year’s holiday.
“Before now, people used this period to travel to their home towns/states or elsewhere to celebrate with friends and families, but the case was totally different this period,” he said.
“Our passengers complained bitterly about lack of money, high cost of living and significant increase in poverty.”
The NURTW official said that people who travelled this period were people who might have genuine reasons to do so, unlike in the past where people willingly visited friends and family just for fun.
“We ought to increase the transport fare due to several reasons but we could not, because we wanted more people to travel. Yet, the turn out was not encouraging,” he said.
One passenger among those who managed to travel this year was Nuhu, who told Daily Sun that he traveled to Taraba State to celebrate with his family.
“I had the opportunity to get refreshed and revitalised to face the tough socioeconomic situation in Nigeria,” he said.
He registered his displeasure with the level of destruction in his home town which, he said, was as a result of “politically motivated” communal clashes and the activities of Fulani herdsmen.
“Nevertheless, that did stop me from enjoying the holidays. It was not because I had enough money to play with, but because I was determined to do so in the midst of the obvious socioeconomic challenges,” he told Daily Sun.
Similarly, Grace Ameh, who returned from Jos, said she used the holiday as an opportunity for a family reunion.
“Work separated me from my family. My husband and children live in Jos while I live and work in Abuja here. We talk on phone regularly but I visit them each time I have the opportunity,” she said.