LAGOS - In a bid to offer a special `Eid Al-Adha to everyone, the governor of Southwest Nigeria's State of Osun has been offering Udhiyah sacrifices to Muslims at a huge discount to cut soaring prices.
We are not just subsidizing. We are trying to provide an alternative market where our people in the South West especially can buy rams instead of the arduous task of going to the north, Semiu Okanlawon, spokesman of the governor of the State of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, told OnIslam.net.
A ram that will go for about N50,000 or more in the open market is between N30k and N35,000 (under this scheme).
Nigerian Muslims celebrated on Tuesday the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, one of two major celebrations on the Islamic calendar along with `Eid Al-Fitr.
After special prayers to mark the day, Muslims offer unhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God.
This year, Udhiyah prices soared due to insurgency and excessive flooding in the country's northern region where most of the animals come from.
As the high cost of sheep could have stopped many from buying udhiyah or animal sacrifice this year, Osun's scheme was offered to cut prices and offer Udhiyahs at reasonable cost.
Average-size ram is sold for between N45,000 and N60,000.
Residents say people from within and outside Osun are patronizing the government because of the cheap rate it is offering the rams.
The ram subsidy, Okanlawon said, is part of the government's grand plan to make Osun the hub of livestock farming in the region; a project the state says is designed to lessen dependence on the Northern region for meat.
The government says its Oloba Cattle Ranch located in Iwo, a town in Osun reputed for Islamic scholarship, is part of its efforts to promote ram and cattle feed lot in the state.
In Borno Northeast Nigeria, where the Boko Haram insurgency has left the people dejected and the economy in ruins, the government is also lifting the spirits of the poor with an announcement that 540 cows are to be slaughtered and shared among the state's poor who are predominantly Muslims.
Inuwa Bwala, information commissioner of Borno, told OnIslam.net that the 540 bulls so approved are to cater for the less privileged. The bulls will be shared to the residents of Maiduguri and Jere local governments of the state.
He said a committee of Muslim scholars and community heads has been set to oversee the distribution of the Udhiyah meat.
Along with subsidized Udhiyahs, Osun government have provided free train ride for Nigerians travelling during `Eid.
As part of the measures to ease the travels of our people and join their families for the eid-il-Kabir festival, the Government of the State of Osun has once again provided free train ride from Lagos to Osun, Okanlawon said.
The free transportation has offered a huge relief from the habitually expensive transport fare during festive periods.
Osun's governor spokesman added that indigenes of other states whose towns are en route the Osun capital city of Osogbo are also free to join the ride from Lagos.
As a matter of fact, indigenes of Kwara, Kogi and other parts of the North-Central and the entire North are finding it more convenient and economical to join the free ride to Osun from where they now join vehicles to their various destinations, Okanlawon said.
We owe it a duty to provide for our people most especially those who cannot afford the exorbitant travel costs and the hitches on our badly damaged Federal Government roads. Good governance is nothing if not alleviating the sufferings of the people.
The first trip to Osun is on its way snaking through Lagos, Ogun, Oyo before it arrives in Osun this afternoon.
The state is also offering the travelers a free ride back to their destinations on Saturday, Okanlawon said.
Nigeria has declared Tuesday and Wednesday as `Eid holidays but most citizens often spend up to a week at their localities during `Eid Al-Adha to socialize and attend to longstanding communal issues.
The government of Lagos state is also offering free intra-city ride to the citizens, a gesture that has become a state policy.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
`Eid Al-Adha, or "Feast of Sacrifice, is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations, together with `Eid Al-Fitr.
After special prayers to mark the day, Muslims offer unhiyah, a ritual that reminds of the great act of sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`eel were willing to make for the sake of God
Festivities and merriment then start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.