By Kate Halim And Vivian Onyebukwa
Given the harsh economic situation in the country presently, most people are not going to celebrate the Easter celebration the way they would have wanted. Saturday Sun spoke to some Nigerians who revealed that they are going to mark the special day on a low key.
Dike Mirian Ugochi said that even though she’s excited about Easter because Christ is the reason for the season, there’s absolutely nothing to celebrate because of the economic crunch biting hard right now. On that day, she said, she would go to church, come back home, eat and relax.
The young lady recalled that in the past, she used to buy live chickens which then cost about N2500. She said she cooks food during the festive period and shares for her neighbours but she has to adjust because a live chicken is between N6,000 and N7000 now.
Dike said: “I will simply buy little quantity of rice because the one I bought during Christmas has finished and also some meat to prepare for Easter. I would have gone to some recreational centres or attended some outdoor activities but because of the way things are, I’m not doing anything special.”
According to Dike, one can’t afford to even take care of oneself, let alone others. So she said she will just buy some bottles of soft drinks to eat with the rice she’s going to prepare on Easter day.
As a salary earner, Dike stated that she earns a particular amount when noodles was sold for N45 per pack, but that even now that the smallest noodles goes for N100, she still earns that same amount. She added that she’s so bitter about the way things are going in the country.
These days, Dike said she has resorted to making cheap meals, adding that fried rice has become the cheapest meal to make with the aid of tumeric spice. She lamented about the hike of transportation in her area. According to her, you can’t make your market list at home while going to market, but rather, when you get to the market, you buy what the money you have can afford.
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“Easter will come and go, just like every other day. There’s nothing special about it and everyone around has to understand that things are no longer how it used to be”, Dike stated.
Lilian Chikwe is a Catholic faithful. She said the preparation for Easter was preceded by lent, a period of fasting, prayers and alms giving. She added that this is closely followed by the Easter Tridum which would culminate with Easter Sunday and that nothing has changed in terms of her church’s spiritual exercises.
But in terms of throwing a feast, Chikwe noted that she won’t be doing that and she won’t be travelling out of state either. According to her, several factors are responsible for this low-key celebration which include inflation, insecurity and gender based violence.
Chikwe stated: “My first reason for low key Easter celebration is the high level of insecurity in the country, the second reason is the high rate of inflation and the third one is the spike in gender based violence where women and children are the worst hit. This year and indeed the past few days have been highly traumatic for me.”
Chikwe told Saturday Sun emphatically that there won’t be any boisterous Easter for her and her family, but rather, it will be a time for sober reflection and renewal of their collective resolve to be good followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. She however added that despite the economic downturn and social vices bedevilling Nigeria, they will rejoice because Christ has risen.
Juliet Ebiye has never been excited about festive periods but she takes the opportunity to visit family and friends. Ebiye said she won’t do anything special on Easter day except going to church and visiting a few friends.
“If not for the bad economy, I would have visited a friend in Lagos. Times are hard and it makes me sad that I can’t enjoy some of the things I used to enjoy in the past on Easter day”, Ebiye lamented.
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According to Ebiye, being alive and healthy is a big blessing that she’s grateful to God for but the inflation rate in the country is driving her crazy. She said she wishes that things were different so that the celebration can be memorable like it used to be years back.
An entrepreneur, Grace Zemehe Jere will celebrate Easter with her family in Jos, Plateau State. But she doesn’t have plans to travel anywhere. She said that because of everything happening in the country, there is every reason to celebrate this year’s Easter but there is no plan in place for enjoyment which includes cooking a variety of dishes and buying different drinks.
Jere said: “I will celebrate life. My being alive is much more than anything. No matter how bad things are and no matter how expensive foodstuff is in the market, I choose to be grateful to God for providing for my family and keeping us safe.”
Mrs. Helen Nneka Eke-Okpala said that she has no serious plans for the season. According to her, she will just cook rice and eat with her family. Clearly optimistic, the mother of two added that there is a lot to celebrate no matter the economic situation in the country.
Eke- Okpala noted that even if she doesn’t have money to celebrate Easter like she truly wants, she will pray to God on that day and thank Him for the gift of Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross of Calvary.
Eighty-five-year-old Victor Ilomuanya Ike, and a retired Petroleum dealer, told Saturday Sun that his family will celebrate Easter in the spirit of the death of Christ on the cross for mankind. “I will celebrate quietly with my family even though one is saddled with the burden of sickness”.
Public Relations guru and Chief Executive Officer of Fullpage Communications Ltd, Mr. Ingram Osigwe , said it will be a quiet Easter celebrations. “As an Igbo man, I would have loved to travel to the East, celebrate Easter and attend events and burials, but the menace of unknown gunmen drives fear to the spine.”
Princess Roseleen Folarin, a Real Estate developer lamented about the harsh economic situation in the country. “Quite honestly, it is difficult to say how you want to spend the Easter with your family because there is fire on the mountain. No one can categorically say this is how I want to spend Easter for many reasons”.
Folarin disclosed that times are hard, making reference to high cost of commodities in the country. “Prices of everything, including foodstuff and provisions keep an upward trend. Many things are not within the reach of the ‘common man’ to which class I belong. The spending power of the common man is almost zero,” she said.
In the same vein, she also expressed fear about the security situation in the country when it comes to travelling to celebrate Easter. “Times are perilous.Traveling is uncertain and unsafe. You can’t think of traveling to celebrate with your family members who are far from you. If you go by road, you are at the mercy of bandits. If you go by train, it’s the same situation. Air travel which hitherto has been considered the safest, doesn’t seem so now. Even if you decide to stay home depending on where you are domiciled, you are not too sure of safety. It’s that bad. So what do you do in the prevailing circumstance?” she questioned.
Keeping hope alive, she stated: “Wherever you are, celebrate Jesus Christ who is the reason for the season, and enjoy whatever you can manage to piece together to make you happy along with your family. If they are within your vicinity, exchange visits but don’t keep late night. And then keep thanking God for enabling you to dwell in safety thus far. The times are hard, perilous and unpredictable.”
For Ebele Enemchukwu, a former beauty queen, and the brain behind WABIO Place and WABIO Foundation, Easter this year will be quiet. She said that she and her family are likely to spend the special day indoors, even though she has got into the mood of Easter already.
Enemchukwu said: “I’m a lector in the Catholic Church, and last Sunday, I proclaimed at Mass, where I had the privilege of narrating the Passion of our Lord, straight from the altar, alongside a priest and another lector. It was an amazing way to usher in the Holy Week, and an opportunity to immerse myself in the events leading up to when Jesus paid the ultimate prize for humanity. So you see why I said this year’s celebration shall have a social place for sober reflection”.
Yusuf Adeoye, a media consultant said that as a Muslim, he will be at home with his family praying and making intercession for Nigeria and Nigerians since Muslims are observing the Ramadan fast.