Two Days Of Harmattan: Clear Case of Climate Change

By Nicholas Ojo-Awo

Nicholas Ojo-Awo is an environmentalist

Spending the Christmas holidays in Ibadan was what first brought notice to the late commencement of the harmattan season. The annual gust of North-Easternly winds emanating from the Sahara that signal the end of the rainy season. They came on the 22nd of December 2016 and that of Lagos was most noticeable only on the 27th and 28th of the same month.

But it was not until January 14 and 15 that harmattan became an item in Lagos. It was two days that became a topic even on social media.

Those two days of harmattan experienced is by far the least ever experienced and while people have continued to expect a return, they are beginning to come to terms with the fact that perhaps that’s all they would get.

Some light showers have also been witnessed in some parts of Lagos though these can easily be written off as products of coastal rainfall.

The reduced duration can actually be felt across the country even in the northern parts that used to have acute harmattans and all this can only be pointed in the direction of the elephant in the room i.e. Climate Change.

The global reach and the impact of climate change has been well documented and gradually it’s beginning to be felt in the hinterlands of Third World countries who aren’t even the lead participants in the warming of the earth’s atmosphere.

The year 2016 has been acclaimed the hottest recorded year since the statistics became available in the 1880’s, it is no longer surprising though, seeing as the record has continually been broken on an annual basis since 2013.

What is surprising though is that the most developed country in the world just accepted the nomination of Scott Pruitt, an avid antagonist of climate change believers as secretary for the environment in the United States.

Like Pruitt, US President-elect Donald Trump is not a believer in Climate Change, he once labeled it a hoax on Twitter – the duo might well drag climate change advances back by at least a decade.

Back in Nigeria, the realities of Climate Change is gradually but consistently sinking in.

The harmattan which is usually characterized by cold dry air in the mornings and night while the air is hot and dry during the day with very little humidity and a lot of dust storms.

The season commences as the dry North-Easternly winds push down from the Sahara and force the South-Westernly winds from the Atlantic Ocean back.

The period encompassed is usually a function of the locality. Places in the northern part of the Nigeria tend to experience more harmattan than locations in the southern part.

Simply put, it’s Nigeria’s closest shot to having the snow-like experience. It’s the time were citizens dress in hoods, much thicker cloths and have a feel factor that the sun is not scorching but even that luxury is no more.

Gone are the days when you experience a cool weather after rainfall. Nowadays it rains and what you get afterwards is heat which was not always the case in the past.

It’s increasingly becoming difficult to state categorically how the weather will pan out. Sometimes it starts as a cloudless day, then the rain kicks in from nowhere.

What many do not understand is that to some extent people have influenced the climate and have forced it to change.

We can continue to improve our quota towards the environment by invoking the three R’s in all our activities.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle because while the loss of the harmattan might not seem like a big loss, nature tends to balance itself and we might be facing greater flash floods or an extended drought.

Nigeria in the present recession might be inadequately prepared for either.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.



Nicholas Ojo-Awo is an environmentalist who has written papers on modern landfills, groundwater pollution and dump sites contamination.

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