For Muslims intending to engage in the sacrificial slaughterring of rams in the coming Sallah, these are not the best of times as the prices have gone through the roofs.
Muslims are expected to join their counterparts across the globe on Friday to celebrate this year's annual eid-el-Adha, a religious festival in commemoration of the sacrifice of a ram made by Prophet Ibrahim instead of his only son, Ishmael.
Wikipedia describes it as the "Festival of the Sacrifice", the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God's command.
Every year, billions of rams go in sacrifices by faithfuls who buy and slaughter these animals and consume them while also sharing to relatives and friends and the needy.
Findings by the NPO Reports indicate that across Nigeria, prices of ram this year have gone up dramatically leaving many with possibilities of not having rams for slaughtering this year.
Islamic scholars say that God permits those without means to drop the killing of rams until they are financially stable to afford it.
Many ram markets visited in Lagos indicate that prices have gone up as much as 100% for the same sizes of rams which many purchased last year.
"I cannot believe the prices they are mentioning now," Kehinde Quadri told our correspondent at a ram market in Ikorodu Monday evening.
On Tuesday, Mallam Haruna Hadiyah, told the NPO Reports correspondent at Ishaga area of Lagos that rams that were purchased at the rate of about N60,000 last year now go for between N100,000 to N130,000.
Adeniran Adebayo, a resident of Gege Area of Ibadan said on Tuesday that he has combed many parts of the Ibadan city only to find out that with his budget of N40,000, he might end up not getting a good ram for the festival.
"I am already considering the option of shelving a ram this year though that is not palatable for me," he said
Asked why the high cost this year, NPO Reports gathered that the already bad security situation in the Northern part of Nigeria has been further compounded by the coronavirus pandemic which has made movements to be badly impeded.
Many ram merchants who used to invest heavilly on an annual basis have been too cautious this year not to go the full hug in putting money on a business the returns are not certain.
"Those of us who have rams this year just put out our necks for a big risk," said Mallam Haruna.
Another thing found out by our correspondent was that banks which used to support ram merchants loans for the business have been careful this year.
An official of one of the commercial banks confessed to the NPO Reports that its risky to give out loans for businesses where the operating environments are unstable.
The official who preferred anonimity, said, "Some of our customers are used to taking loans every year for that business, One, many of them did not even border to request this year. And even banks too must be cautious not to give loans when we know the business' risks factors are too high.
It is a combination of these whole factors that compelled the prices to be up since there are fewer rams out for sale while the prices remain high.
Tactically, many are also waiting for the last day of the festival to approach markets to buy their rams with the expectations that prices usually come down on that day.