Subsidy in Nigeria: its Effect on the Eid Celebrations and Other Celebrations to Come

Eid-Al-Adha and Eid-il-Fitr are the two unanimously observed celebrations by Muslims around the world. The former is celebrated in the month of Dhul-Hijja to commemorate the completion of the Islamic pilgrimage while the former is celebrated to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This year’s Eid-al-Adha coincided with the removal of subsidy in Nigeria, particularly on Petrol Motor Spirit (PMS) and as expected came with slight impacts on the socio-economic activities of celebrants.

Subsidy in Nigeria

Unlike the Eid celebrated after Ramadan, the Eid-Al-Adha is celebrated with the slaughter of a ram. Or other permissible animals as a sacrifice by those who can afford it. The name Adha is in fact referring to this sacrificial rite.

The ram slaughter forms an integral part of the celebration coupled with other cultural activities. Many of these are tied to the movement of people or goods from one place to the other. 

It is therefore the aim of this essay to take a look into how the first public celebration post-subsidy has been affected by the policy decision. With the hope of learning valuable lessons that will guide Nigerians in subsequent celebrations.

This will be discussed under the following subheadings:

1. Family and Friends’ Visitation 

The Hausa have a saying that Ko wani Dan kwarai a gida ya ke Sallah. This means every good and responsible son celebrates Eid in his hometown. This saying is particularly referring to persons who work in places other than their towns of origin. 

As Nigeria has continued to become very urban, more than 50% of the population now lives in cities. This enables a situation where roads leading to states become very busy during festive periods as city dwellers travel to their respective villages to celebrate with families.

The nexus between this Eid tradition of traveling to hometowns is particularly affected by the increase in PMS price. The cost of transportation has forced some people to stay back in the city to celebrate their Eid. Or use public transport to travel which is somewhat cheaper than fueling a private car.

A man who works in Abuja with his family living in Kaduna lamented how he spent N26,000 to fuel his car to travel to Kaduna. On arriving at Kaduna, 75% of the fuel had already been exhausted during the Abuja to Kaduna trip. The remaining 25% will not be adequate to cater for his township trips within Kaduna. In essence, the man had to spend N50,000 for a few hundred of kilometers trip in a country whose monthly minimum wage is still N30,000.

The story is similar in virtually every other part of the country. There have been reports of less traffic along major Nigerian highways during the Eid celebrations. This is an indication that many people resorted to celebrating their Eid in the big cities where they work.

Beyond the inter-city travels, the Eid celebration is never complete without the intra-city visitation of friends and family. This tradition also recorded a slight decline as parents and children opted for visits that are close and less fuel/money consuming.

2. Animal Sacrifices 

Eid-Al-Adha is all about the sacrificial rams slaughtered to mark its celebration. Many faithfuls spend months saving and planning for the purchase of ram to mark the festive period.

This year, as it has always been in every Eid, major cities registered the trooping in of rams to the city in their droves from rural areas. In Kaduna for example, many major roads in the core part of the city were littered by a flock of colorful rams on display for willing buyers.

The price of rams this year hit the roof with some rams selling at the price range of N200,000-N1,000,000 in the federal capital territory. The cost of transportation of these rams from the rural areas plays a certain role in the increment of price.

In the rural areas where small rams could be obtained for 30,000 naira before, this year they were not found. The lowest price of such small rams started from 50,000 naira. The effect of subsidy removal has trickled down to the rural areas and were prompted to make adjustments in their prices.

As it turned out, politicians who are the brains behind the removal of fuel subsidies turned around to subsidize rams for Imams of central mosques in major cities of northern Nigeria. 

A ram seller was heard saying how a leading politician from northern Nigeria purchased 500 rams to be distributed to all chief imams of Kaduna mosques. Another senator from a state in the Northwestern part of Nigeria purchased rams in their hundreds to be distributed to Muslim faithfuls. 

The subsidy on fuel may have been removed, but politicians found a way to reduce the sting of economic hardship experienced in the country for select privileged members. A situation that raises more questions than answers on the sustainability of such practice.

3. Fashion and Beauty 

Muslim faithfuls are encouraged to spend Eid in their best attires and maintain a very elegant look during the Eid celebrations.

Men, women, and children alike are seen sewing new clothes and buying new accessories to complement them.  Nigerian tailors have a bountiful season from the litany of fabrics sent to their shops by respective customers for sewing. 

As it turned out, the removal of fuel subsidy caused a hike in the price of cloth sewing. Tailors lamented the increased cost of fueling their generators to power their machines. As the Nigerian Electricity Distribution Companies have continued to prove unreliable in their supply of electricity.

Women on the other hand, who are the objects of more pronounced embellishments and style in the form of henna and hair care, faced an increment in the price of those services. This is particularly more evident in the case of women who required home service of such beautifications. The service providers resultantly hiked their service charges to reflect the post-fuel subsidy realities.

4. Food and Drinks Sharing

Eid is never complete without the sharing of food with neighbors and closeby relatives. It is in line with the Islamic teaching that one must care and share with his neighbor at all times regardless of faith, ethnicity, or tribe. 

Women start these preparations two to three days before the day of Eid. These preparations mostly involve all members of the family as they gather to make snacks and local drinks. Some of these local drinks are Zobo, Kunun Aya, Kunun Zaki, and Ginger drinks. 

This food preparation was affected by the subsidy removal in the sense that the prices of ingredients were hiked by the merchants. 

A woman who has been married for ten years and is familiar with these Eid preparations expressed her shock when she visited Sabon Gari market in Zaria a day before Eid. And noticed how certain sections of the market were scanty and almost deserted by customers. She said “I was very surprised when I went to the market and noticed how scanty it was. Places that I usually enter with shoulders of other buyers brushing against mine were very accessible to me this year”

In an economy that is battling to adjust to the post-subsidy shock, such scenes are bound to happen. And Nigerians are painfully learning the limits to which their lifestyle will be affected.

5. Biannual Cultural Parades

In northern Nigeria, many of the traditional emirates such as Kano, Zaria, and Katsina engage in what is called Hawan Sallah. This is a traditional parade of horses where the King dressed in colorful regalia passes a crowd of enthusiastic watchers in a display of rich cultural history and heritage. 

Many indigenes of such Emirates who live or work in cities that are far away from the kingdom specifically take to the road during Eid for the purpose of witnessing this cultural parade. 

As this year will have it, due to the increment in fuel prices and by extension transport costs, many people who live far away were forced to forego this cultural parade.

A retiree expressed how he was unable to travel to witness the cultural parade in his hometown for the first time in twenty years due to the fuel price increase. He said “This fuel subsidy removal came at a time when most farmers are investing their money in the farm. I have invested most of my savings in the farm and decided to stay back at home rather than travel and incur additional costs. I am seeking to solely invest in my farm. Any travel that is not absolutely essential will have to wait”

If people can not travel long distances to witness such historic and rich cultural parades due to expensive transportation cost, the grandeur of such parades may be affected. Because the influx of people far and wide for these parades is part of what gives it prestige. 


When the subsidy on fuel was removed, the effect it would have on the Nigerian socio-economic fabric was not easy to predict. Now, one month after the policy change, it has seen the profound impact it has had on the lifestyle of Nigerians. 

The effects of a post-subsidy Nigerian economy did not spare the recently observed Eid as it affected the celebrations in virtually all major aspects. Nigerians now have ample experience from this Eid to prepare for the next Christmas celebrations in December. 

The road may be bumpy but if the lessons highlighted above are carefully scrutinized with the insights of proper planning, the Christmas celebrations may be less austere than the Eid-Al-Adha 2023 in Nigeria.

Maryam Idris Bappa

Maryam is an Architect and Writer who enjoys other creative activities such as crotchetting and sketching.. she studied Architecture from ABU Zarja and likes to chat with her friends during her free time.