Ibadan wears new look for Christmas as sales draw more shoppers
By Tayo Johnson
As the Christmas day approaches, residents of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital are gearing up to celebrate the season despite glaring challenges. Every December, the Oyo State Government embarks on an extensive decoration of different parts of the metropolis in preparation for the Yuletide. Most residents of the state capital look forward to this annual practice that does not only light up the city at such time of the year but adds colour and glamour to the season. As usual the area around the seat of power in Agodi is beautiful and aglow with brilliant colours at night, especially the roundabout in front of the state secretariat and the government house arcade.
Even the new sprawling Cocoa Mall is not left out, as Shoprite supermarket inside it is distinctly decorated with bright lights.In other parts of the city, especially, Akobo, Challenge, Bashorun, Mokola, Ring Road, the decorations are eye-catching. One cannot help falling in love with the colourful lights of the roundabout opposite Town Planning, Rind-Road, which hosts a big talking drum that symbolizes the culture of the people.
A few years ago, when the state government embarked on the urban renewal project to transform the state capital, many people probably did not think it was necessary. Now government’s effort has started yielding positive results. The city’s landscape has been enriched by lush floral gardens.
Some corporate organisations, commercial banks and eateries have decided to follow the example of the government by decorating their premises for the season. For example, exquisite Christmas lighting at Ajeigbe road leading to Orita Challenge, which hosts the Oyo State headquarters of Globacom has transformed it into a wonderland of sort. The visual effect is remarkable.
Also, in keeping with the spirit of Yuletide, various youth organisations are already decorating their streets with colourful banners and festoons as well as gearing up to host loud carnivals. At this period of the year, it is common to find groups of youths soliciting funds for the events on the streets.
However, few days to Christmas, many Ibadan indigenes are complaining about the high cost of food items, but in spite of this. there appears to be no significant drop in patronage. Some traders told The Nation that business was booming and more people were coming to the markets to shop for Christmas.
At the popular Bodija Market, it was business as usual. The market peaked with activities. But a trader who sells rice in the market, Madam Aishatu Omolara, noted that her normal sales figure has not changed. Noting that she still sell the same quantity of rice as “I have been selling before,” Omolara hoped that it will change in the next few days as the yuletide celebration draws closer.
In addendum to her explanation, a tomato seller, Mallam Bello Nasiru, also attest to the fact that it is business as usual, in spite of the season. Nasiru said:” There are increases in our patronage during weekends, but since Christmas is around the corner, we had expected sales to improve, but now it is still business as usual.”
The story is almost the same at the popular Oje Market. Most of the traders say the cost of food items has increased because of the festive season.
A dealer in rice, Emeka Daniel explained that the prices of food items are now on the high side and people have not been coming to buy as they used to.
He went on that a bag of Umbrella rice that used to cost N10, 000 now sells for N15000, while also a Bag of Derico that use to sell for N8,000 before now sells for N11,500.
Daniel said:” The difference is really big. Things are tight this festive season and it is getting worse every day.
He blames the hike in the cost of food items on the security situation in the North, lack of money and increase in the import duty on rice.
A trader in pepper and tomato also complained bitterly about the high cost of food items.
She said the cost of a bag of pepper had increased from N4, 000, to N8, 500. Similarly, a basket of tomato costs N7,500, while a basket of tatashe pepper is N 7,000.
Attributing the increase in the cost of food to the economy, the Secretary of Bodija Foodstuff Traders, Mr Sola Faribido said, “The demand of foodstuffs is low, so there is no way we can inflate the prices during this period. We are still selling as usual and sales has not improved, there is no money in town and people are complaining bitterly”
But a customer at the market, Mrs Ajoke Bamiro said”:” I wonder how we will survive because food items like Garri Ijebu is now N10, 000 per bag. A bag of beans sells for N25, 000, depending on the type you want and a bag of rice is now between N10,00 and N15,000 depending on the type. We just hope on God for the best this Christmas and we shall cut our coat to our size.
“When Christmas approaches, there is always an increase in the cost of food items and this year is not an exemption”
The price of a carton of croaker fish has increased from N12,000 to N16, 000, while a carton of stockfish costs N8, 000 as against N6, 500 three months ago. Also, a carton of chicken sells for N6, 000 and the price of turkey remains at N7,500 per carton.
A frozen foods dealer, Joy Nkechi explained that: “We did not just increase the prices of food items on our own. We cannot ignore the fact that this is Christmas season and as expected, the prices of such food items will increase. As the situation of things is hard now,”
Similarly, Bukola Omonigbeyin, who sells oil at the Bodija market says the price of oil has not increased.
She said:”Five litres of groundnut oil has always been N1,700 and that is still what it is as at this moment. The price hasn’t changed at all.”
Also, Kehinde Babalola who deals in shoes and bags at Iwo-Road, agrees that business is brisk and the traders are trying hard to cope with the pressure from their customers. “This is the time we have good sales. Everybody wants to buy Christmas shoes and bags. We didn’t need to inflate the prices of these items. The prices vary depending on the design you want to buy. We don’t need to increase any price because of Christmas,” she says.
At Shoprite supermarket in new Cocoa Mall Dugbe, it was business as usual, as over 1000 shoppers trooped out in large numbers to shop for the Yuletide.
Many of them were seen at different sections such as, wine, ingredients, beverages, cakes, Christmas decorations, and drinks.