Nigeria: Aftermath of Insecurity, Soaring Inflation – It’s Bleak, Drab Christmas

We can’t even afford new clothes — residents lament

The times are hard. That is the reality in Nigeria. And it is becoming increasingly clear to everyone that the traditional practices of buying new clothes and shoes during every Christmas and New Year’s celebrations cannot be sustained by the average Nigerian household.

Poverty, hardship, and hunger in the land have combined to weaken the economic power of the average Nigerian household’s ability to perform traditional Christmas practises such as sewing new clothes, buying new shoes, and embarking on visits to loved ones and associates.

Arewa Voice findings indicate that rather than rush out to make new clothes and stockpile new fashion stuff for family members as they used to do, most families have now adjusted to the new reality of patronising used clothes and shoes, as they cannot afford new ones due to hardship in the land. This has left many tailors, fashion designers, and shopowners virtually without business during this holiday season.

Findings indicated that parents, who at this time of the year usually throng the markets to buy the best clothes for their children, wards and themselves, have largely shunned that idea given the very high cost of acquiring new clothes in the market and patronising fashion designers and tailors.

In Makurdi, the Benue State capital, most families have rather turned to the popular Wadata ‘okrika’ or second hand cloth market for cheaply available clothes for their children and wards.

The bustling market, which attracts visitors from across the state, is known for cheap used clothes, particularly during this season when some clothes can be bought for as little as N1,000.

This accounts for the mad rush to the market by parents and youths in the last few days, who have taken over all available spaces in the market to search for ‘Christmas clothes’ for themselves and their wards.

Some of these parents and guardians were seen moving around the market, frisking the heaps of clothes scattered on mats and tables for the ‘right sizes and affordable designs’ for their children. They had taken to the second-hand clothing market as the last resort for their children’s Christmas outfits given the current state of the economy, which has rendered them financially weak.

And for obvious reasons, the market, which usually convenes on Saturdays and Sundays, has now been up and running every other day in the last week, drawing unprecedented vehicular and human traffic to the area in the process.

In spite of the gridlock around the area, some of the shoppers could not hide their joy and excitement at being able to secure some reasonable fabrics for themselves and loved ones for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Sunday Michael, an undergraduate, who spoke with AV, said that without the market, many Nigerians would not be able to buy clothes given the high cost of fabrics in the country in recent years and culminating in the yuletide season.

Michael said: “The reason you are seeing this number of people in this market is obvious. This is what is affordable for the majority of Nigerians at this time. Nigerians are finding it very difficult to feed themselves, not to talk of being able to buy expensive clothes for themselves and family members.

“So the bend-down boutique is cheap and affordable. For the masses who are battling to survive in the country; this is where we get clothes to wear. People also buy from here and resell it in markets in the villages. Without this market, I’m willing to bet that the majority of Nigerians would be without clothing. That is the sad situation we have found ourselves in Nigeria, but we know that God will not abandon us or the masses.”

On her part, a mother of three, Mrs. Felicia Yough, noted that good quality male and female clothes could be bought in the market for as little as N2,000 compared to the prices in boutiques and shops, where they cost as much as N10,000 or more, which accounts for parents’ decision to patronise the ‘bend-down market’.

She said: “We are all here in the second-hand cloth market to get Christmas clothes for our children because the hardship is too much in the country and the cost of making new clothes or even buying ready-made clothes is beyond us now. But now we cannot even afford to buy new materials not to talk of going to the tailors. With N2000, I picked very good shirts for my sons, and I hope that I will also pick good trousers of that amount or less for them. From there, I will go to the shoe section and also pick something good for them. That is the situation we have found ourselves in this country, but we are coping, and it is just unbelievable that we are where we are today.”

Also, an excited trader, Idris Abubakar, who was beaming with smiles given the rising level of patronage most of them are enjoying following the huge traffic to the market, said: “People do not go to tailors and boutiques like before because the cost of living is very high in the country and people are managing the little their money can buy.

“So everyone is flocking to Wadata because this is a place where you can buy very cheap good clothes for Christmas without bothering yourself with the very expensive cloths made for you by the tailor.

“You can see that even those of us who are selling cannot cope with the number of people patronising us during this festive period. “That is why we now sell every day until the New Year instead of the Saturdays and Sundays that we normally do,” Abubakkar said.

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