Nigerian Muslims are beset by problems of prices increases of livestock and tight security as they join the rest of the world to celebrate Eid-al-Adha 2019.
Nigerians are currently concerned with soaring food prices and low consumer activity, as the government deploys security operatives to protect critical infrastructure, including airports and places of worship at this time of festival.
Thousands of troops, police, civil defence and traffic officers have been deployed to improve security in a country that has been afflicted by ethnic and religious divides as well as by escalating rebel activity and kidnapping.
76-year old President Muhammadu Buhari who has had oversight of managing the poor economy and low levels of security, flew to Daura, his hometown in Northwest Katsina state on August 8th, where received guests ahead of the Muslim festival.
Before leaving the federal capital Abuja to fly to Daura, Buhari held a closed meeting with service chiefs where he directed them to ensure that there would be no security breach during the celebration that coincided with church services on Sunday August 11th.
Muslims complained that the combined economic and security crises made the celebration of the annual event difficult. Eid-el-Kabir is a celebration requiring Muslims to sacrifice rams, sheep, cows and any other livestock in fulfilment of one of the tenets of Islam.
But worshippers find the slaughtering of animals too expensive, while sellers complained of low sales in general in 2019.
Reports from Kasuwar Shanu and other sale outlets in the Maiduguri metropolis in Borno state indicated that prices of livestock have shot up by over 50% compared to last year.
A small sized ram sells for US$50 (N18,000); a medium size goes for US$100 (N35, 000) while top-breed rams attract between US$210 (N80, 000) and US$400 (N150, 000).
Malam Kabiru Umar, a ram dealer, said that the price rise was as a result of the high cost of transportation and animal feed. He said that the animals were supplied to the market from some villages in Nigeria, Chad and Niger Republics where insurgency had affected free movement of livestock.
Alhaji Shettima Ali, a resident, however, blamed the traders for the unilateral rise in prices. At the Dei-dei Livestock Market and Dutse Market in Abuja, the prices of small, average and big rams at both markets ranged between a negotiable price of less than US$100 (N35,000) and US$400.
Sellers also complained about low sales levels this year and expressed dissatisfaction with the low offers made by some customers. A ram seller, Malam Munir Tanko, blamed the low footfall on the state of the nation’s economy.
Mallam Idris Yamuna, another cattle seller at the Dutse market commented on the poor turnout of buyers and attributed it to a lack of resources.
In spite of the complaints, normal economic activities closed until August 14th, as the government, concerned over violent extremists, had declared August 12th and 13th public holidays.
In a message to mark Eid-el-Kabir 2019, President Buhari directed that all critical infrastructure, including the airport would be protected as he deplored what he described as “violent extremist ideas that give Islam a bad name”.
In compliance with the presidential directives of August 8th, 2019, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) deployed more than 60,000 officers at major cities, airports and places of worship, including mosques and churches.
The deployment had become an imperative because the celebration of Eid-El-Kabir took place on a Sunday, a day of worship for Christians. Nigeria would be virtually locked down by Muslims and Christians who needed protection as they worshipped on August 11th, in an era of high levels of criminal activities.
The Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Muhammadu Gana, posted 60,000 personnel across the 36 states, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Apart from the deployment of personnel, specialised units such as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN), Rescue Team, Ambulances, Armed Squads and Sniffer dogs have been strategically positioned for quick intervention, as directed on August 9th in Abuja.
In a statement, the president ordered all the state commandants to work together with other sister agencies and urged officers to be courteous and diplomatic in their dealings with the public.
He said that security personnel had been deployed at places of worship, airports, shopping centres, malls, recreation centres, accident blackspots and areas considered to be vulnerable to attack.
He warned criminals, vandals, terrorists and any others with violent motives not to target festive periods, his forces would be ready.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, ordered the deployment of adequate personnel and equipment to protect public places.
A statement by the Forces Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, on August 9th, said the police chief assured Nigerians of adequate security before, during and after the celebration.
Mba reported that the assistant inspectors general of police and commissioners of police in charge of zones and state commands have been mandated to comply with the directive. He said the deployment would cover shopping malls, car parks, financial institutions, places of worship and recreation centres to enable holidaymakers, worshippers and other Nigerians to enjoy optimum safety during the period.
Mba also said the inspector general of police had directed state commissioners to put in place strategic and customised security on major highways to ensure the safety of travellers and other road users.
The Borno Police Command took a step further with the restriction of vehicular movement on Sallah day in Maiduguri metropolis in order to ensure a trouble-free and peaceful celebration.
Mr Usman Usmobik, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), said on August 9th, that Maiduguri in Nigeria northeast had been a theatre of insurgency, where more than 20,000 people have been killed since 2009. He said the restriction on vehicular movement between 7am and 12:15pm on August 11th is part of comprehensive security arrangements that are put in place to maintain law and order as well as to protect lives and property during the festive season.
“The restriction, though regretted, will include use of motor vehicles, tricycles, bicycles and animals except those on essential duties.”
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) reported that airport security and other logistics have been strengthened to contain the expected surge in passenger traffic. FAAN’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, gave the assurance in a statement issued in Lagos on August 8th, and she reported that the authority had installed new directional display units to guide travellers, especially first-timers, at its airports.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) also deployed more than 36,000 personnel to man major roads across the nation. The Corps Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, said in Abuja that officers would ensure safe motoring during the festival.
Meanwhile, President Buhari says the greatest commitment to Islam is for Muslims to put the virtues of the religion into practice and make justice and righteousness their guiding principles.
In his Eid-El-Kabir message to Muslims, released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari said: “We should be the mirror through which others see the virtues of our faith.
“Islam is a religion of peace and we should avoid violent extremist ideas that give Islam a bad name because our conduct will leave more lasting positive impressions than what we say by word of mouth.”