Barely twenty-four hours to Eid-El-Kabir, the prices of rams in the country haveÂ soared beyond the reach of many muslims, P.M.NEWS investigations have revealed.
Investigations in Lagos State, South-West Nigeria, revealed that the prices of ramsÂ now range between N25, 000 and N120, 000.
Visits to ram markets showed that while a small ram goes for N25, 000, a medium ramÂ costs between N50,000 and N100,000 and a big ram sells for N120,000.
The high prices of the rams, our survey revealed, have kept many Lagosians away fromÂ the market, as many cannot afford them.
Some ram sellers in LagosÂ told P.M.NEWS that the price of rams cannot be low duringÂ Sallah because ram is synonymous with the celebration.
They said that transporters from the northern part of the country limit their tripsÂ to other parts of Nigeria during the Sallah period and this contributes to the highÂ cost of the rams.
Alhaji Usman Mohammed, Chairman, Livestock Dealers, Breweries, Iganmu, Lagos saidÂ transporters also want to celebrate the festival with their families and so the fewÂ available transporters increase the cost of transportation.
â€œWhat now happens is that the transporters hike fares by between 30 to 50 percentÂ per trip to make up for the period they will be at home.
â€œAs Sallah celebration draws nearer, it will be better for any celebrant to buy ramÂ Â because the price will surely go up a day or two days to the celebration,â€ MohammedÂ Â told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
The Vice-Chairman, Arase-Oluwa Ram Association, Oyingbo, Mr. Abiodun Nofiu, however,Â attributed the hike in the prices to extortion of transporters by security personnelÂ at different checkpoints.
Mr. Yekini Ojo and Alhaji Isa Dasuni, goat sellers at Census Livestock Market,Â Â Surulere, Lagos said that transporters from Sokoto, Kano or Maiduguri now charge asÂ high as N200,000 per trip instead of N120,000.
They said that even prices of the feeds had increased â€œbecause a bag of groundnutÂ leaf now sells for N4,000 instead of N2,500.â€
Ojo stressed that the cost of cleaning up a ram or goat had also gone up from N5 toÂ N20.
Ram dealers under the Costain Bridge, Lagos complained of low turn out of buyers andÂ poor sales.
According to Mallam Aruna Monbisi, the market secretary and also a ram dealer, theÂ high cost of rams could only be traced to high cost of transportation and taxes paidÂ to state governments from the North to the South.
â€œAs at this time last year, we were getting more buyers but now we see only a fewÂ buyers. But we expect a change perhaps a day to Sallah festival,â€ Monbisi said.
He appealed to state governments to reduce the amount of money collected fromÂ trailers as levies while bringing animals and other goods to Lagos.
Another ram dealer in the market, Olalekan Lateef, also complained of poor sales andÂ low turn out of buyers.
A buyer, Mr. Lookman Raji told P.M.NEWS that he had visited many ram markets butÂ couldnâ€™t buy any because of the high cost.
â€œThe price of a ram this year is scaring. Many buyers cannot buy and they go homeÂ disappointed. I am appealing to the government to look into the problem or else manyÂ Muslims will not be able to slaughter rams during this Eid-el-Kabir,â€ Raji said.
At the ram depot at Mosalasi Bus Stop, near Iyana Ipaja, a dealer, Mr. OmotaraÂ Okebunmi lamented the high cost of rams from Niger Republic where they purchasedÂ them.
â€œWe have been recording low sales because buyers cannot pay the prices. WeÂ recordÂ as low as two or five buyers per day,â€ Okebunmi added.
Another buyer, Mr. Kazeem told P.M.NEWS that he bought his own ram some months agoÂ to beat the present high cost.
In other markets visited by our reporters, the sellers and buyers were seen hagglingÂ over the prices and unable to reach a compromise.
Despite the high cost of the rams, some who could afford them, pay and take themÂ away.
â€”Simon Ateba,Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Paul Sanusi & Salimon Oyinkansola