As many Christians across Nigeria embark on prayer and fasting to usher in the New Year, many restaurant operators in Abuja say they are experiencing nearly 50 per cent decline in patronage and profit.
A check by the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja revealed that many churches have declared between 21 and 40 days fasting and praying period for their members.
Some of the popular churches are Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Living Faith Church and Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Margaret Banjo, owner of Danat Foods in Central Business District Area, told NAN that her business had remained dormant since the fasting began.
“Many of my customers have not been patronising me since they are fasting and because of this, profit has reduced by 50 per cent.
“Though fasting is good for spiritual development I pray it ends soon so that my business can thrive once more. For now, we are just trying to keep busy,” she said.
Another caterer, Julie Ogbole, who manages Mama’s Home Kitchen, Karu, noted that the year was just beginning and customers had yet to come back from their Christmas holidays.
According to her, the shop has not made any serious sales or received significant patronage since the year began.
She also attributed the development to the fact that many churches were currently holding prayer and fasting programmes.
She said that business had yet to commence fully, adding that they cook more at evening time now to meet the demand when people start breaking their fast.
She explained that most people start breaking their fast from three in the afternoon to six in the evening, depending on how far their strength could carry them.
In the same vein, Theresa Tota, popularly known as Madam Banga, also in the Central Area of Abuja, decried low patronage stating that ‘there is no market and profit has dropped by half.
“There is no market. I am even sleeping in my shop because there are no customers as a result of the ongoing fasting.
“Also, the fact that the price of goods in the market has doubled, a mudu of banga (palm fruit) has jumped from N200 to N500.”
Ms. Tota urged the government to review its economic policies to alleviate the plight of small-scale businesses.
She added that if the present economic situation lingered, hunger could continue to send people to their graves prematurely.