Economy and Business

Christmas: Nigerians prepare for low-key festivities as families grapple with rising costs, harsh economy

As the countdown to Christmas and the New Year begins, the festive cheer is dimming across Nigeria.

Traditionally bustling with shopping, travel preparations, and excitement, this year’s season seems muted due to the weight of the harsh economic realities.

Business Day reports that many families are grappling with the burden the economy imposes, causing a shift from joyous anticipation to distress.

“The suffering in the country is too much. There’s nothing to celebrate. The minimum wage isn’t enough, prices keep rising, and the fuel situation is dire. Forget Christmas, let the year just end,” expressed Mathias Otubu, a frustrated father of three.

The soaring costs, particularly for essential commodities, have replaced the usual excitement with sadness for many.

“How can you celebrate Christmas with an empty pocket? Prices have skyrocketed; rice is now almost like gold at almost N70,000 for a 50kg bag. It’s about survival now, not festivities,” lamented Uchemmadu Okongwu, a banker.

The high transport fares during the festive season are adding to the gloom. Jide Ogunlesi, a senior civil servant, criticized the exorbitant 200 per cent increase in fares, making travel for family reunions or holidays unfeasible for many.

“People should scale down to what they can afford and skip festivities or traveling this year if they cannot afford it,” suggested Ogunlesi, citing the unnecessary strain on budgets.

The economic strain has trickled down to other sectors. Tailors report low patronage, attributing it to the economic downturn.

Rice, a staple during Christmas, has become exorbitant, leading economist Anderson Ikediashi to predict low-key celebrations across families this season.

“The poor are the hardest hit. The government has done little to curb food price inflation,” Ikediashi voiced, emphasizing the widening gap between earnings and market prices.

Apart from rice, the prices of other food items essential for celebrations have also soared, making the festive menu unattainable for many.

“The prices have skyrocketed. Chicken prices start from N3,500 per kilo, and even sachet water and carbonated drinks are expensive,” noted a market shopper.

Amidst this challenging environment, Damilola Oni, a consultant gynaecologist, advised scaling celebrations down to affordable levels.

“Live a normal life and don’t give in to pressure from anyone because the cost of healthcare is even worse now,” suggested Oni, cautioning against unnecessary travel risks and expenses.

Looking ahead, Ikediashi highlighted the looming expenses in the new year, advising preparation for unavoidable costs like rent, tuition fees, and various bills.

While many struggle to afford rice or travel to reunite with loved ones, some families opt for low-key celebrations, prioritizing thanksgiving over extravagance.

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