By Oluwatoyin Akinrinola
The harsh economic conditions in the country was a spoil sport for many people who ordinarily wouldn’t have spared no expenses to give their loved ones a treat on Valentine’s Day
Femi Abimbola, an engineer had always looked forward to February 14 with excitement. Popularly called Valentine’s or Lover’s Day, February 14 happens to be Abimbola’s birthday and the day he got married to his wife. For these two reasons, the day is usually spent with much fun in and outside his household. In previous times, Abimbola took his wife on a shopping spree, allowing her to pick whatever catches her fancy. Thereafter, they would have the choice of having lunch or dinner in a cozy restaurant. But this year’s was different owing to the recession in the country.
The engineer, this time around, only bought a gift for his wife that he admits did not cost much and then the duo had a quiet dinner in their home. Recalling the low key celebration, Abimbola said: “My wife knows I will always love and care for her. That I could not celebrate with her the way we used to, she understands. Everyone knows what the economy has turned into.”
Just like Abimbola, many others across the nation marked Valentine with less fanfare this year. Segun Lawal, a printer, told the magazine that though he did not spend much on items this time around, the time he spent with his partner made a lot of difference.
On the other hand, there were some who relied on Valentine’s Day to earn more money.
Alima Akagewo, a food vendor, said she would have loved to spend the day at home, cooking only for her husband and children, but given the economic situation, she needed money and had to go out for business and used the proceed of the day to buy gifts for the family. “I knew I would make a lot more than usual that day in the restaurant, so I used my profit to buy gift for the family,” she explained.
Notwithstanding Akagewo’s gain, it was cautious spending for many people. The low spending pattern witnessed in many hitherto busy areas on February 14 was not unexpected, given the harsh economic challenges in the country. Over the past two years, prices of many commodities had doubled or tripled in some cases even as people’s financial power had dwindled. Many workers across the states are owed salaries while some others have lost their jobs.
Before now, the days leading to February 14 were often distinguished by love song on the airwaves, with various shopping malls and gift shops showcasing gift items for the season. While envisaging some form of patronage, some organisations planned various activities to make the day memorable. Hotels and restaurants are not left out in impressing their customers with offers of sumptuous delicacies and discounts while some media organisations advertised musical concerts, boat cruise, candle light dinners for couples, among other activities, but many of them ended up complaining of low sales or patronage. With the recession biting so hard, many, it appeared, were not favourably disposed to spending or celebrating the day with pomp and ceremony.
“Even this period where people fall over themselves to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you can see nothing much happened,” said Mercy Olubayo, a trader. She pointed out that the few customers that patronized her shop complained about the high cost of commodities. While some grudgingly bought a few items, others, she explained, just walked away.
February 14 was named after a Christian martyr, St.Valentine, who died while expressing love. Ever since, the day is celebrated around the world for that purpose. Love is however expressed in diverse ways and so there are people who use the day for charity work. Some institutions of learning too, especially private nursery and primary schools, in most urban areas reach out to less privileged members of the society on that day. But to many who view it as an opportunity to make money or who expect to be lavished with gifts, the expectations weren’t quite met.