Christians in Nigeria join their counterparts across the world today in the 2022 Christmas celebration.
What is, however, clear is that this year’s celebration appears not to have come with so much fanfare.
It was reports that unlike previous years, the economic crisis bedevilling the nation may have forced several Nigerians to celebrate on a very low key.
Apart from the scarcity of the Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called Petrol, which has made travelling difficult for most Nigerians, procuring foodstuffs for the season is another major problem.
It was observed that several passengers were stranded on Saturday due to the astronomical rise in fares occasioned by acute petrol scarcity.
Usually, in this period, many Nigerians travel to different parts of the country to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. While some return to their ancestral homes to reunite with their kith and kin, others take breaks from their regular schedules and work to visit tourist destinations.
However, the situation this year has left many unable to embark on such fancy journeys, while those who have travelled or are planning to do so are complaining of high fares and fear about their safety.
Our correspondent gathered that most transportation companies imposed a 100% increase in fares this season, blaming the surge on scarcity of the PMS.
Abuja to Benue which was hitherto N4,000 skyrocketed to N8,000 on Saturday. A passenger, Mrs Ochanya Theophilus who was unable to pay for the fare, said she had no choice but to return to her Abuja home.
“This is what we experience every year in this country. How on earth can a journey from Abuja to Gboko cost N8,000? And the worst is that the transport companies do whatever they want and there is no government to speak for us.
“I wanted to go home with my family. I thought it was affordable; just last week, I learnt the fare was N5,000 per seat but on getting here now, I discovered we may have to spend close to N20,000 Naira. We are returning to Kubwa”, she lamented.
Asked why the sudden increment, a driver working with the Benue Links who decided to be anonymous, simply said it was time for transportation companies to make money.
“Everything has a season. Apart from the fuel that is so expensive right now, Christmas is the time companies like this and we the drivers make money. It is our season”, he said.
Meanwhile, there have been lamentations across the country following the surge in prices of foodstuffs and other commodities in the market.
A check in some key markets in the Federal Capital Territory on Saturday revealed that prices of goat, rice, and other items have uncontrollably gone up.
Some Nigerians, who spoke to our correspondent, lamented that they would observe Christmas on a very low key, saying they were unable to purchase necessary items for the celebration.
“I went to the market to buy some foodstuffs for my family since I can’t afford a bag of rice but I was unable to get anything. I came back with nothing”, a housewife, Mrs Onyinyechi Peter said with tears.
According to her, the 2022 Christmas “is the worst we have ever experienced. Things are so hard for us. I don’t know what I’m going to tell these children tomorrow. I could not even buy ‘okrika clothes’ for them”.
Mr James Adoga, however, said despite the high cost of goats in the market, he was forced by his family to purchase one for the Christmas celebration.
“Left for me alone, I wouldn’t care about getting a goat. Christmas is just like every other day, nothing special. But my children will not allow me.
“The goat we used to buy N15,000 is what I just bought today with my hard earned N30,000. This is almost my monthly salary, but these children will not understand”, he lamented.