By Luka Binniyat & Favour Nnabugwu
Nigerians in their forties and above would easily recall December, 1983. Two phenomenal developments took place: On the night of December, 1983, a lanky Major Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, General Officer Commander, GOC, 3 Armoured Division, Nigeria Army and band of military officers, chased out the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari and Buhari became Nigeria’s Head of State.
The next most unforgettable experience after that change of government, which was visited with exultation and high forecast of a better Nigeria, was the weather condition under which the coup took place.
“I will never forget the Christmas of 1983,” recalled Pastor Augustine Jatto, missionary with Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, Jos, Plateau State. “I was just 14 and I came to my village near, Riyom in Plateau State from Lagos, where my parents were living,” he said.
“That December wind was icy and came with soft dry dust. You could hardly see beyond the next row of village huts. By 12 noon, the sun was hardly visible and the biting cold showed little change. As for me, it was the lobe of my ears that got the most of the cold. It was like something was holding an ice block to it. There was always a log of wood burning in my grandfathers room where we would snug to it.
I was told that the Church was almost empty on Christmas day. The usual December Night vigil held with few venturing out. The usual dancing and visitation was cut short. By 5pm, people had run back into their homes.
“For the two weeks I spent in the village, I took my bath only twice and I didn’t feel uncomfortable. I was told that some security men were dying in Jos. Not only that, my grandfather said that wild animals were dying, including birds. He said he had only experienced such cold when he was a child too. He couldn’t recall the year. So, whenever I think of 1983, I think of the Buhari coup and the coldest Harmattan I have ever experienced till date,” he said.
Many who passed through this phase and those who came later, have noticed changes in seasonal weather, especially in terms of temperature change.
Nigerians are battling with economic recession. Everything appears to be changing. The weather is not left out.
With less than 24 hours to Christmas, it has become curious that even in the northern parts of Nigeria, where the dominance of the Harmattan each December stamped its presence through its cold, dry dust wind speeding at an average of 90km per hour, temperatures continue to remain uncomfortably hot in the afternoon.
Last year, horizontal visibility was so poor in December that there were at least 10 flight cancellations as advised by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NIMET and the Nigeria Civil Avaition Aithority, NCAA. This December, no such cancellation has so been made. Visibility has remained usual with warm temperatures averaging 36 Degree Celsius for many cities.
But this should be a surprise for those who have been monitoring the weather this year. January 2016, as affirmed by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was the hottest January ever since weather record started in 1880. Though in Nigeria, extreme weather variations have not been recorded, the deviation in rainfall, humidity, temperature, wind speed and sundry matters have continued to have impact on the environment and socio-economic.
Despite the clear unusual warmness of December 2016 in relationship to other years, NIMET insists that there is nothing to fret over.
Director-General, DG, of NIMET, Dr. Anthony Anuforom, told Saturday Vanguard in Abuja on Wednesday that with the days to come, occasional outbreak of dust, will reduce horizontal visibility significantly to 1000m and below in some places, meaning the usual December/January Harmattan has not been forecles.
Anuforom said: “There is prospect of fresh dust plumes being raised in the coming days, with its attendant consequence. NIMET will, however, continue to monitor the weather and climate conditions as they unfold and provide regular updates and advisories to the general public,” the DG said
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had earlier alerted air travellers to brace up for some delays that may be experienced due to harmattan haze expected in most parts of the country soon. The apex regulatory body pleaded for understanding of the travelling public, urging them not to be lawless should the situation arise and flights had to be delayed or cancelled.
For safety reasons, NCAA has directed flight crew to adhere strictly to the prescribed weather minima for each of the airports, as violation would be viewed seriously. Spokesman for the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said that the agency had issued advisory circular to help prevent incidents or accidents caused by such weather related occurrences.
Adurogboye, explained that the circular was in line with the forecast earlier made by NIMET, which indicated the occurrence of moderate to severe outbreaks of dust during the period of November 2016 – March 2017 in Nigeria.
It’s due to climate change —Leonard Chukwuma, Businessman
I think the weather is due to the effects of the global climate change that world leaders have been talking about lately. It’s a call to the government of every nation to save the world. Personally, I miss the harmattan. Not only is it normal in a season like this, but it also has a unique way of reminding us that Christmas is around the corner. I don’t think it has anything to do with the current recession though.
Likely to affect our agriculture —Damilola Hamza, Business Woman
The climate has changed probably due to human activities. Though this has not affected any of my activities but I think it will affect our agriculture. I know there are some farm produce that rely on harmattan to blossom well.
I miss the morning cold and dew — Michael Orie, Media Practitioner
The absence of harmattan has made Nigerians less conscious of the yuletide season, because it has always been associated with Christmas and New Year. Nigeria is a peculiar country and we experience a lot of changes and this is one of it. But I believe the harmattan will soon be here, as there are already signs of it. It is only a matter of time, maybe in the new year proper. I miss the morning cold and dew though.
I miss my favourite weather – Favour Daniels, Banker
The harmattan season is my favourite time of the year because of the cold weather. We have a very hot climate in Nigeria, the sun these days is very scorching. And during the rainy season, everywhere is flooded, you can’t even go out. Personally, I’ve been looking forward to the harmattan and I’ve always associated it with the yuletide season. Christmas is really not complete without the cold, dew and dust. I’m tempted to believe that it was also affected by the recession.
I hate the harmattan dust — Segun Awosiyan, graphic artist
The over population in Lagos is one of the reasons we are yet to feel harmattan here.
That is the advantage of having trees like what we have in the village. People who travelled to Osun and Ondo testified to the difference in the climatic condition.
I hate harmattan because of the dust that comes with it.
Over population is a major factor — Alabi Inaolaji, graduate
What we are experiencing is as a result of global warming. Over population is another major factor because people in the Eastern part of the country are experiencing the harmattan already.
This is hottest December since I came to Kaduna in 1975 – Chief Olu Ajayi, 57, Photo journalist
I have been living in Kaduna since 1975. I cannot remember any December temperature like this one. This is a hot December. Look, how hot it is. It is only in the early morning hours that you feel some cold of the harmattan, but even at that, its is nothing compared to other years. I don’t know what is happening, but there is a definite change in the weather. As for me, it is not the weather that will determine whether this Christmas will be good or not. It is the amount of money that is in my pocket.
I can’t feel love, nature in the air -Josephine Anche, 34, lawyer, Kande and co-Chambers, Kaduna.
My best time of the year is usually December. This is the period that makes me most happy and I have fallen in love most of the time in December. It is the cold and dry wind and dust of the harmattan that make the place wonderful. I like looking at the hazy distance over the hills and it gives me a feeling of romance. Please do not laugh. . . But this year, it is as if there is no December. I don’t have any feeling of Christmas. The place is hot and the wind almost standstill. No harmmatn dust to form those golden dust on the hair of men. No dry lips, no sign of Christmas. And Christmas is here.
Ahmed Sarkin Yaki, 45, Tailor, Kaduna
The most remarkable thing about December is the harvest, fishing, hunting and Christmas for our Christain brothers. I don’t care whether it is very cold, or it is not cold. In December, there is always enough to eat. Then because there is no rainfall, you can move anywhere and not worry about being trapped by rain. But, I must admit that this December is very different from others. Maybe it is for good, maybe it is for bad, but this December is not cold at all. Last year this time, I couldn’t be talking with you wearing this captan.