• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Growing issues change yuletide trend for majority

Growing issues change yuletide trend for majority

Some years ago, there were easy pointers to know that the yuletide season was near, and the excitement in the air was ‘unmissable.’

First is usually the legendary harmmatan, which is typically cold and dry. Then, the dried leaves are littered all over the streets, and Christmas songs are all over the place. Ecstatic!

The next and probably the most exciting part of the holiday season is the request by parents and other family members about the shoe size that fits, or the hairstyle that is most preferred, or the choice of clothing that is most craved for. Happily, parents or other family members rush to the market to buy these items for themselves, their children and other individuals they feel they could extend the yuletide love to. Life was pretty simple and relatively cheaper those days.

The Easterners also reserved the age-long tradition of visiting their extended family members in the remote Eastern villages when the festive season is on. Travelling activities are usually at their peak around mid-December, when east-bound journeys usually make up a significant part of Nigeria’s overall economic activities. Of course, many Southern and Northern-based trips also occur, but not generally as many as the Easterners’.

Once upon a time, Nigeria was free from severe security collapse, unreasonable hikes in general prices, unpredictable weather conditions due to climate change, and a gravely poor living standard for most citizens. Today, the trend is fast-changing. The yuletide season now could mean a different narrative for many young and old Nigerians.

The popular east-bound migration has severely declined, and many in and out-bound travels to and from the diaspora have been reconsidered due to the ongoing security challenges in the country.

Read also: Governor Sanwo-Olu spreads holiday cheer during yuletide season

Insecurity poses a significant threat to the free flow of goods and people within and outside the county. The situation usually exposes victims to deadly or, at best, highly and costly encounters. For this reason, many Nigerians have decided to remain in their place of residence to celebrate the Christmas and New Year season while they connect with their loved ones in the villages and other parts of the country remotely.

The coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to the reduction to this celebration-motivated migration tradition in no small measure. After the announcement of the Omicron variant of the virus, stricter measures have been placed on a global scale to restrict cross-border travels, while local efforts have also been felt through a recall to prioritise social distancing while avoiding crowded spaces.

For these reasons, the yuletide feels different for many Nigerians who would feel incomplete without observing the holidays in the usual manner.

High prices of food items and other essentials have caused many Nigerians to run on a lean budget for the yuletide. Although the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) mentioned in its most recent inflation report that inflation has been on a southward path for the eighth consecutive month in November, Nigerians still lament the high price of household and other items.

According to the NBS, inflation slowed from 15.99 percent in October 2021 to 15.40 percent in November 2021, year-on-year. According to the bureau, the decline in prices was occasioned by positive base effects and a slum in food prices.

Accordingly, the bureau reported that food price inflation declined on a month-on-month basis by an average of 72 basis points over the last eight months. While food prices stood at 18.34 percent in October 2021, the primary driver of the headline rate declined to 17.21 percent in November 2021. However, the NBS’ selected food price watch for November reports a rising trend in food prices as insecurity, post-harvest losses, poor storage culture, limited farm mechanisation, poor logistic and limited availability of foreign exchange constitute major challenges to food security in the country.

Accordingly, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) prices increased from N165.60 per litre in October to N167.60 in November. This has led to an increase in the cost of transportation, which is reported to have increased by 15 percent (year on year) and 1.2 percent (month on month) in November.

Also, the average cost of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder is reported to have risen 10.1 per cent (month on month) and by 79 percent (year on year). This means that, on average, Nigerians spend N7,308 on gas refills as of November 2021 instead of the former N6,638 in August 2021. Prices of diesel and kerosene are reported to experience year on year increases of 24.2 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively.

In all, the increase in the cost of household energy supplies, transportation and food, coupled with severe insecurity challenges and the health pandemic, have caused this yuletide season to seem too different from past festive experiences. While Nigerians must bear with the situation and make adjusted plans to suit the circumstances as they seem, there is the need for the government to hasten up with policies and actions that will serve Nigerians a better festive year in 2022 and beyond.