Lagos twinkles for Christmas
There was also vehicular and human traffic, forcing traffic on many routes, to a standstill.
Operators of inter-states transport companies made brisk businesses Fleets of luxury buses were seen leaving Ojota, Ojuelegba, Jibowu, Maza-Maza, Orile and other places with travellers who were on their way home to spend Christmas and the New Year with their loved ones in their villages and cities.
There was a glowing beauty, as many places were highly decorated to reflect the ambience of the season. Gardens, lawns and even tree trunks, were adorned with red, green and golden apparels. There was quite a glittering beauty on the Island, as the lawns at the medians, beginning from Kingsway Road in Ikoyi through Ozumba Mbadiwe, on Victoria Island, twinkled with red, blue and golden lights. To bring the message of Christmas nearer to passers-by, a cr?che of the Holy Family of Nazareth -Jesus, Mary and Joseph surrounded with golden pyramids with a star at the tips and Christmas trees have been erected at Falomo Roundabout.
However, pains and frustration of the lingering fuel scarcity in the last two weeks was still obvious. There were crowds and queues at various filling stations, which spilt on to the major roads, thereby worsening the traffic jam.
Christian faithful who were travelling for church retreats were trapped for hours in the hold-up.
At Idumota Market on the Island, hundreds of traders thanked God, despite the high cost of living in the country, for another opportunity to witness the Yuletide and also for good health.
One of the traders, Fatimo Alajala, who sells baby wares at Idumota, told The Guardian: “Unlike last year, I have made a lot of sales this year, although the bad economy is biting hard,” she said.
She also lamented the high cost of wares, complaining that it was a general problem all over the country.
Another trader, Laraba Nwajiobi, who sells turkey, appealed to the government to do something fast concerning the high cost of goods in the market so that the masses could not afford food on the table.
According to him, not many can comfortably afford two square meals per day, saying celebrating Christmas like other families was a mirage for many people.
“A carton of turkey that was sold for N4,000 last year has suddenly increased to N6,000 and N7,000 this year. It is the same thing with chicken and other foods items. In fact, I really appreciate Nigerians for their endurance in situations like this. Things are really hard in the country,” he said.
At Mushin Market, there so many buyers thatpassers-by had to shove and push before they could pass. Some sections, which sold foodstuffs relevant for the celebration witness throngs of buyers. There was so much crowd along Agege-Motor Road because of frozen chicken sellers. It was survival of the fittest before they could actually buy.
The market situation was not different at Ikotun area of Lagos. There were several people who besieged the market to buy items for the celebration of Christmas.
Most of them told The Guardian that the year was not so bad. They said there was relative peace although the cost of living was gradually getting out of hand, that ordinary citizens could no longer cope.
However, the pains did not in anywhere reduce the funs the yuletide. Various churches had retreats and Christmas programmes to thank God for sparing their lives to see the end of the year.
The social miscreants popularly called area boys were not cut out of the fun, as they also organized their various street carnivals. There were banners and buntings to decorate streets. Some of them barricaded streets to collect tolls for their celebrations.
Mobile drummers were seen going from one house to another to solicit for alms.
Hair saloons were filled with women and children who queued to make their special “Christmas hairs.” Some hair-dresser who could not afford shops were seen under the bridges braiding hairs with such tact.
A businessman who lives along Funso Williams Road, Samson Ayomide, lamented: “The transport fares have really gone up this very period due to the fuel scarcity. It has reduced the glow of Christmas celebration because many families find it difficult to move about,” he said.
Business was not so bad for transport operators at Ajegunle. Commercial bus operators are making brisk business, as Christian faithful swarm various parks buying tickets to travel to their various places of retreats.
Speaking to one of them in Alafia, Chinedu Okafor said: “Due to fuel scarcity and the last- minute rush, a ride from Lagos to Abuja is N5,250. But to Abia, Imo, Enugu and other eastern state, the fare is N4,150.
A driver at one of the transport company, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Travelling is not food. If you cannot afford, stay back because we cannot compromise our profit with pity. Everyone knows there is scarcity of fuel and that is why the transport fare has increased.”
One of the passengers in Maza Maza Bus Terminal, Samuel Osita, said: “Even with the high cost of transportation, I feel satisfied and fulfilling by travelling to meet my family at home.”
Meanwhile, in the spirit of the season, Indomie Instant Noodles has donated thousands of its products to over 20 orphanages and the less -privileged in the society.
The beneficiaries include: Little Saints Orphanage in Palm Groove; Heart of Gold Children’s Hospices and Pacelli School for the Blind & Partially Sighted both in Surulere; Modupe-Cole Memorial Child Care & Treatment Home, Akoka; SOS Children’s Village in Isolo; Regina Mundi Old People’s Home in Agege-Motor Road; and Arrow of God Orphanage.
The Public Relations Manager, Tope Ashiwaju, the company’s decision to touch the lives of the less-privileged and create fun for children during this festive season, “is part of its social investment initiatives to improve the quality of lives of the various stakeholders in the country.”