With only few days to Christmas, the high spirit of this festive season seems to be nowhere to be found.
The Christmas season has unarguably become one of the most exciting festivals in the world. The ‘Christmas spirit’ is usually characterised by Christmas decorations, gift giving and a lot to eat and drink.
Over the years, this ‘Christmas spirit’ usually starts towards the end of November into the New Year. However, the tables have turned as a lot of Nigerians go about their usual businesses, mindless of the fast approaching festive season.
This is not unconnected to the rise in expenses, especially in terms of food items. With the recent closure of the Nigerian land borders, a lot of people might resort to celebrating Christmas with swallows as the cost of rice is ridiculously on the rise.
Thelagostimes went round the Pen Cinema axis of Lagos state to get reactions from business owners. Thelagostimes also discovered that a lot of shops are yet to be fully stocked for Christmas.
According to Chinedu, a boutique owner, “around this time last year, I had a lot of clothes on display for Christmas. But now, I can’t even afford to stock my shop due to the bad economy. People don’t even have money to buy new clothes, except for very few individuals.
“People are looking for money to eat. It is when you’ve eaten that you’ll remember to buy clothes. It’s really saddening. Nigeria is becoming something else. Christmas is just next Wednesday and things are like this. Everywhere is not even bubbling, unlike previous years”.
Also lamenting, Samuel who sells foodstuff said: “As you can see, the Christmas season is not bubbling at all. Our president who closed the border knows what he is doing. He decided to close the border when he knows that Christmas is coming. A lot of people won’t be able to eat rice this Christmas because the price of rice has gone up. Not only rice, groundnut oil and other things is also on the rise”.
Another foodstuff seller who identified himself as Tolulope lamented on his inability to travel to neighbouring countries to buy goods, unlike previous years.
“As at this time last year, a lot of people had travelled to Cotonou and other neighbouring countries to bring in goods like rice, oil, and so on. But this year, border closure has affected a lot of things. The only thing you see now that reminds you that Christmas is coming are just decorations. Even that is not like last year or previous years. Only few companies can afford expensive decorations because there is no money. Everybody is just managing”.
Also, Emeka, a roadside hawker said: “Is it not someone that has money that will celebrate Christmas? The economy is bad. There is money in the country but our leaders want to embezzle all. Those people in top positions will enjoy Christmas very well.
“They might even decide to travel out for Christmas with their families, whereas, we the masses will be left to celebrate Christmas with the little we have. This is not fair at all because we voted these people into power. As for myself and my family, we will celebrate Christmas with the little we have, since Christmas is not basically about feasting alone. We will just keep praying that our leaders put our interest at heart”.
Also speaking with Thelagostimes, a wholesale rice dealer who pleaded anonymous said: “As at last year, I had stocked my shop with many bags or rice, vegetables and cartons of chicken and turkey. Now, as you can see, I have just few bags.
“This is as a result of the border closure. Even the local rice we were able to get is expensive. People just price it and leave because they cannot afford it. There are now lots of fake rice in the market now and people prefer to buy them because they are cheap”.
With Christmas few days away, there seems to be little or no preparation on the part of the masses. However, over the years, it has been gathered that the elites and top politicians do not spend the Christmas holiday in Nigeria.
Dubai and other European countries reportedly record a high number of visitors and tourists, especially during the Christmas holiday.