Despite the excruciating cost of living, insecurity, and hike in transport fares at the fore of the yuletide, many Nigerians were boarding vehicles and airplanes to their various country homes.
Before the festive season, one would have thought that the economic crunch and surging insecurity would make it difficult for people to travel.
In the face of the yuletide, an Abuja to Lagos fare that was about N25,000 some weeks ago has surged to N52,000.
The fare for a journey from Lagos to Owerri, the Imo State capital also went up to about N42,300, while Lagos to Port Harcourt is now N45,000.
Airpeace and other airlines have also increased their fares in the face of the Christmas yuletide.
According to BusinessDay’s findings, “Air Peace increased its fare from N85,000 to N190,600 for a flight from Lagos to Abuja, while Lagos to Port Harcourt surged from N86,000 to N143,000.”
The rising inflation and cash crunch, among others, was seen taking away the cheers of yuletide from many homes, yet many people defiled the odds to be with their loved ones in their villages.
Ikechukwu Chilaka, a marine engineer based in Lagos, traveling to his hometown in Imo State during Christmas is an annual ritual that he does not joke with because it means a lot to him and his family.
According to the entrepreneur, going back to my roots in a time like this is an opportunity I use to cool off from the busy life of the city.
“It’s a period I use to rest and stay away from the business activities, besides, it’s a period I look forward to reconnecting with my people from different parts of Nigeria, and even those living outside the country.
If I couldn’t make the millions, at least I should be able to go home and relax with my kinsmen,” he said.
Though Chilaka traveled with his family in his car, he decried the rising cost of interstate transportation.
“I learned it’s now about N40,000 from Lagos to Owerri, something of about N25,000. it’s quite unfortunate, but we must travel no matter the price,” he stated.
Eugene Nweke, a civil engineer based in Benin City, Edo State, said he traveled with his family to Imo State to celebrate the New Year notwithstanding the transportation cost.
“It’s our family tradition that we all return home to celebrate the New Year together. It started with my late dad, and I have decided to keep the tradition going, hence, all my children, except the ones living outside the county, would converge at our ancestral home to pray together as we usher in the new year,” he said.
For many Nigerians, yuletide represents some of the most cherished practices of identity and community they have. And being isolated at this time of the year is proving one of the toughest aspects of Nigeria’s economic and security crisis.
The annual family reunion for many is an important part of their end-of-the-year tradition.
This seasonal migration to villages and country homes makes yuletide one of the few times families in many communities get together and the opportunity seized to have the bonding they missed out on over the year, making the festive season a more jolly event.
A young man from Anambra State, who gave his name as Echezonam said the feeling of seeing his family he left to come over to another man’s land is always exciting.
And that there is this relief that comes with it that you are back and meeting them safe and sound.
“There’re many other relatives that traveled to so many parts of the world, so getting to see them again is always thrilling,” he said.
For Sandra Osazua, she will be traveling to witness his father’s coronation.
“My father is being crowned a chief in Benin City and I will be traveling with my entire family to grace the occasion and give him my support. So I look forward to having fun, meeting friends and wee-wishers,” she said.
A young woman who gave her name as Olawunmi said she was traveling to Abeokuta in Ogun State to meet with her family.
“I look forward to seeing my loved ones in my village. No matter how civilised one becomes, going to meet with the people who were part of your life from toddler makes life worth living.
For me traveling at a time like this brings me joy, and resonates with the love and happiness we share as a family,” she noted.