The unusual heavy rains in January
Nigerians, especially, those living in Lagos and some other southern states may have been jolted by the unusual heavy downpours that marked the first month of the year; a month that is normally characterised by high temperatures, scorching sun and heat wave.
The rains came in successive turns and generated floods that are not common during dry season. Experts have been blaming the abnormal weather on climate change. But as a country, we are not taking climate change serious even when the obvious devastating impacts are taking their toll on us. The time for Nigeria to be more proactive is now.
Following the downpours, groundwater aquifers recharged and dry wells filled up as if it were at the peak of the rainy season. The unusual weather may have affected some social and economic activities that go with dry season.
The rains caught people unawares without any form of preparations by the authorities as is done during the rainy season. People living in low-lying floodplains must have suffered severe discomfort. Certainly, the Lekki-Ajah axis lying below sea level without good drainage channels over reclaimed landscape were exposed to flood waters.
It is gratifying that there has been no report of casualties except the usual flooding of the roads and other dilapidated infrastructure.
Nigerian roads are exposed to devastation whenever it rains because of dilapidation. And as usual, the floods exposed the underbelly of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, after wreaking havoc in parts of the city. This is a reproach to Lagos the authorities have failed to address.
Ordinarily, the onset of the rains brings joy and happiness after people have gone through the hot blazing dry season that makes life uncomfortable. The rains sooth the scorching heat, reduce temperatures, water the earth and mop the dusty ground.
These conditions cool the atmosphere. The cool nights provide good condition for sound sleep. Without the usual night sweating that wets the pillows, beddings and nightwear and causes rashes, the rains provide ideal weather for relaxation. This is the case when the rains come in due season but not otherwise as the January downpours manifested.
Interestingly, farmers are bound to welcome the rains. To the farmers, the rains herald the planting season and indicate a bountiful harvest after a successful planting season. Without the rains, the farmers won’t cultivate and there will be poor harvest. The farmers can’t afford not to have rains at its season.
So, everyone, including the farmers is surprised that the rains came at the outset of the dry season when the farms were supposed to be dry to allow for clearing, bush burning and cultivation prior to planting.
Therefore, as the weather forecast continues to show rains in the coming weeks, it is unclear for how long it will take for the weather to return to normal to enable farming operations to commence.
As February rolls past mid-month, farming activities ought to commence in Nigeria’s southern states before April/May planting season, under normal circumstances. But the rains seem to disrupt this cycle. This could impact negatively on food production if the rains persist. The agriculture and relevant ministries should assist the farmers through some orientation messages through local media.
It needs to be stressed that the issue of changing weather pattern is occurring worldwide and not peculiar to Nigeria. Climate change is taking its toll on countries and peoples around the world.
For instance, while extreme temperatures are literally melting pavements as a result of scorching temperatures, cold temperatures are causing severe problems in Canada and the United States of America.
Reports say many states have been battered by snow blizzards in the wake of the Storm Grayson, which brought wind chills as low as -36oF. This caused rivers and lakes to freeze as brutally cold winds of up to 90mph swept across the country.
As a consequence, flooding and freezing temperatures forced motorists out of the roads. Florida, notable as the “Sunshine State,” for the first time in three decades, was covered under a thick blanket of snow. This rare event forced popular recreational parks to shutdown.
Australia’s extreme heat wave has resulted in catastrophic bushfires, power failures and people being admitted in hospitals with heatstroke. Temperatures in some parts of Sydney are reaching a record-breaking 117o, said to be the hottest temperature recorded since 1939.
There is therefore hardly any part of the world that is not experiencing one form of extreme weather or the other. Somehow, humanity is helpless as these blind forces of nature ravage civilisations and cultures across the globe.
In the main, in Nigeria, people should be sensitised about the possibility of these sudden occurrences, as a way of saving lives and property. Meanwhile, the authorities should be proactive in their reorientation and civic education. The issue of climate change management should be given priority in the scheme of national planning. Politics should not push this physical science issue to the background.
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