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Eid Mubarak to all our readers

10 April 2024
Reading time: 8 minutes

Harsh economic climate is taking its toll on many Muslims in Borno State who say festivities will be muted because of they simply cannot afford to splash out.

Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, has declared Wednesday, April 10, as the first day of Eid al-Fitr.

As Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims.

A statement issued on his behalf said: “His Eminence, the Sultan felicitates with the Nigerian Muslim Ummah and wishes them Allah’s guidance and blessings.

“The Sultan, while urging the Muslim Ummah to continue to pray for peace, progress and development in the country, also wishes all Muslims a happy Eid al-Fitr.”

Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast”. It marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, pray, and reflect upon their deeds and thoughts.

Eid is celebrated by feasting, gift-giving and acts of charity.

Preparations for the festivity in Borno State have been under way for the past week. But not everyone is celebrating in style – the harsh economic climate means that it will be “just another day” for many.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) told RNI that they could not afford “anything special” for Eid.

A woman at the Kesa Ngala IDP camp, who identified herself only as Sabura, said: “We aren’t making any preparations. Just to get something to eat on a normal day is difficult. Even during the fasting period we had to go out to cut down wood before we could eat the little food we could find. We are not looking forward to the Eid.

“As adults we understand the economic hardships. But the children don’t understand. A few of the kids in the camp were fortunate to get new clothes but most are going without. As adults we know that new clothes are not a necessity. But it is difficult to explain it to the children.

“It’s a shame that we cannot celebrate Eid the way we would like. Before the insurgency, when we were still living in our ancestral hometowns, we were able to celebrate Eid, eating good food and wearing new clothes.”

Ya Falmata, who lives in the Bayan ta Bakwai IDP camp, said: “Just asking for the prices of food terrified us. A bowl of maize costs ₦1,700 naira; a small bowl of rice is sold for ₦900 and a big bowl for about ₦2,000 naira. There is no way we can afford those prices.

“It’s really disheartening. We want to celebrate Eid but we just do not have any money.”

Disabled people in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, told RNI that they were also not looking forward to Eid.

Fatima Bukar, a leader of the blind community in the city, said: “We have not prepared for Eid. The cost of food is too expensive and we cannot afford to buy new clothes.

“Our children have been begging for new clothes because they have nothing to wear. We parents also cannot buy new clothes. We don’t have the money to buy anything.

“We are begging the governor [Babagana Umara Zulum] to help us. We know that he probably will not even think about us but we are asking him to come to our aid so that we can also celebrate Eid.”

Another leader, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “The harsh economy has hit us hard. Many blind people are struggling. Just surviving day to day is difficult. Most of us will not be celebrating Eid. We call on those who have the capacity to help us. They will be richly rewarded by Allah.”

RNI reporter Rawa Bukar Tela went to the palace of the Emir of Dikwa to see how the Salah [prayer] would be celebrated and what preparations had been made.

Zanna Yuroma, a title holder in the Dikwa Emirate, said: “All praises be to the Almighty. We in the palace are well prepared to welcome the Eid al-Fitr festivity. The Zakat al-Fitr [the Zakat of breaking the fast – all Muslims are obliged to pay alms at the end of the Ramadan fasting month] has been done.

“We will conduct the Qur’an recitation to bid the holy month of Ramadan farewell. The Emir, Abba Umar Jato, the Shehu of Dikwa, will perform the Eid prayer. Everything is in place and all preparations have been made.

“We are grateful that we no longer face the security challenges of the past. You cannot compare this year’s Eid prayer to that of two years ago. At that time people were terrified that insurgents would attack. Thanks be to Allah we can now say Dikwa is at least 70% safer than then.”

Despite the economic hardships, many residents of Maiduguri told RNI that they were looking forward to celebrating Eid.

A woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “As you can see, I am shopping for the festivity. We welcome Eid al-Fitr. We have made all the preparations and all we can say is Alhamdulillah [praise be to God].”

“Our prayer is that, just as we observed the fast without any hitches, the Eid celebration be peaceful.”

Abdulkarim Ahmed, who was at the market shopping, said: “We are well prepared according to our pocket size. Luckily, I was able to buy chickens at an affordable price. They were not too expensive this year.”

Babagana Manager, who sells chickens at the market, said: “The price of everything changes every year. The price of chickens last year was very expensive. But this year the price is quite affordable.

“I sell chickens according to a customer’s budget. The most expensive chickens sell for ₦7,000 and the cheapest cost ₦3,500.”

Trader Goni Massa said: “I sell flour, rice, seasonings, sugar and other consumables. Despite the economic hardship, the turnout of buyers this year has been really amazing and, because there have been so many customers and the high demand, I have been able to reduce the price of some items.”

A sad consequence of the insurgency in Borno State is the large number of children who lost their parents in the conflict.

RNI visited the Fatima Ali Sherif Children’s Home – an orphanage in Maiduguri – to see how the children would be celebrating Eid.

Ya Kellu M Aji, the manager, said: “The children here celebrate Eid every year just as privileged children do.

“The orphanage is not a private organisation. It is run by the state’s ministry of women affairs. Whatever the children need, the commissioner for women affairs does her best to provide – be it clothes, food and drink.

“Unfortunately, our car is faulty. Normally we take the children to the park and zoo but we have told them this year that they will have to be patient until we can fix the car. They will be celebrating here and we are looking forward to it.”

It has become a tradition for Maiduguri’s young people to visit the park and zoo to celebrate Eid. In past years, fights have broken out between youths from different communities. But this year tighter security is in place.

Ali Abatcha, the secretary of the committee that oversees the Sanda Kyarimi Park and Zoo, said: “Everyone who visits will be screened before they are allowed to enter. If they are carrying weapons of any description, they will not be allowed in.

“We will also be checking for inappropriate clothing and hairstyles. In the past hoodlums used to come here. They would lounge on the benches smoking and drinking. But this will no longer be tolerated.

“We have put in tight security measures and every person who enters the park will be thoroughly checked.”

In Yobe State, residents said they had prepared for Eid as much as they were able.

Mallam Gaji said: “Chickens are so expensive. We will probably just eat as normal. And we will wear whatever we already own. There is no money to buy new clothes.”

Fanta Modu said: “Honestly, this year’s Eid is not going to be that festive. My husband was able to buy new clothes for me and the children. But we will be eating the same food as we do on any other day. Unfortunately, we do not have money to splurge on expensive items.”

Security personnel have assured residents of Maiduguri that they will be on hand to keep everyone safe.

Ahmadu Mohammed, the public relations officer of the Federal Road Safety Corps in Maiduguri, told RNI that the safety of all was a priority.

“We will deploy ambulances to several grounds where Eid is being celebrated. We do not expect anything serious but people may faint because of the extreme heat. Elderly people, in particular, are at risk. We will also have officers managing the traffic and patrol teams on the highway will be in force to curtail over-speeding and bad driving.”

Modu Aji, popularly known as Modu Milo, the deputy commander of the civilian joint task force Borno State, said: “We have put in place security measures at all the grounds where Eid is being celebrated to ensure the safety of all.”

Ahmed Audi, the commandant-general of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, said: “We have ordered the strategic deployment of more than 40,000 personnel across the country. Criminality will not be tolerated. Eid will be celebrated peacefully. We wish all our people Eid Mubarak.”



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