As Muslims in Nigeria set to join their counterparts the world over to observe the holy month of Ramadan, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar, has urged Muslims across the country to look for the new moon of Ramadan on Wednesday.
The Deputy Secretary-General of the NSCIA, Prof. Salisu Shehu, in a statement said: "Following the advice of the National Moon Sighting Committee (NMSC), the President-General enjoins the Nigerian Muslim Ummah to search for the crescent of Ramadan 1439 AH immediately after sunset on Wednesday May 16, equivalent to 29th Sha'aban 1439 AH. If the crescent is sighted by Muslims of impeccable character on the said evening, His Eminence would declare Thursday, May 17, as the first day of Ramadan.
"If, however, the crescent is not sighted that day, then, Friday, May 18, automatically becomes the first of Ramadan, 1439 AH. The council hereby enjoins the Muslims all over the country to be on the lookout for the announcement of His Eminence, the President-General of NSCIA, on the commencement of the 1439 AH Ramadan fast."
Meanwhile, prices of some food items like tomatoes, beans and onions have increased in Lagos markets ahead of the annual Ramadan by Muslims.
A survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday at Mile 12, Iddo and Oyingbo Markets, showed that a 40kg basket of tomatoes, which previously sold for N16,500 in April now goes for N30,000. A 50kg basket of chili pepper increased from N12,000 to N16,000; and a basket of 'tatashe,' (pepper) rose from N13,500 to N17,000.
Similarly, a 100kg bag of beans rose from N34,500 to N38,000; a jute bag of onions which previously sold for N18,000 now costs N22,000, while a 50kg bag of rice ranges between N13,000 and N17,000, depending on the brand.
In the same vein, a 100kg bag of maize ranges between N15, 000 and N19, 000; while a paint measure of 'garri,' increased to N400 from N350.
Traders at the markets attributed the price increases to seasonal factors, migration of farmers arising from insecurity and increase in transportation costs.
Emeka Ndubuisi, a beans seller at Oyingbo, said the Ramadan season was also a factor that contributed to the increase in the price of beans. According to her, most people purchase beans to make 'akara' (bean cake) and 'moi-moi' (another local delicacy) for the fasting period.
Femi Odusanya, spokesperson of Mile 12 Market Perishable Food Traders Association, said it was imperative to train farmers to adopt modern technology in crop production, and empower them with funds.
"Over 80 per cent of farmers are into subsistence farming. We need to train them on the latest technology in crop production, so that they can cultivate all-year-round.
In a related development, the Church of Christ Evangelical and Life Intervention Ministry, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna yesterday distributed Bags of grains to hundreds of persons with disabilities and internally displaced persons, IDPs in some parts of the state
According to the General Overseer of the church, Pastor Yohanna Buru, the aim of assisting the less privileged and the IDPs is to support them with enough food to eat during the season to observe the 30 days of fasting and prayers.
He said that the church was at the forefront of promoting interreligious tolerance in Kaduna State, adding that the gesture was to deepen peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians, so as to enhance better understanding among different faith base organizations in the state.