16 March 2018

Nigerians Share Experiences of Winter

Most Nigerians are accustomed to both cold and hot weather conditions, unlike the western World which has severe winter storms that has led to cancelation of many flights and closure of schools.

It is said that every Russian knows where Siberia is, but nobody wants to go there, this may not be unconnected with the severe winter storms that sometimes reach up to minus fifty degrees.

According to the internet site, https://www.yr.no/place/Russia/Other/Siberia/ forcecast.pdf, the weather from March 7 to 15th would be between minus 8 degrees (-8) to minus -18 degrees (-18). Some Nigerians who lived in Russians said the weather in Moscow used to reach up to minus 39 degrees (-39).

However, on Tuesday, the coldest place in Nigeria is said to be Mambila Plateau in Taraba State, and the weather forecast for Taraba State is between 15 to 20 degrees, Abuja 37 degrees, Lagos 35 degrees and Katsina is 39 Degrees centigrade.

Alhaji Sani Zangon Daura, a politician, businessman and former minister of Agriculture who also holds the traditional title of Dan Masanin Daura, said, "I was born and grew up in Zangon Daura, attended primary school in Zango, went to Middle school Katsina and graduated with teachers graduate certificate in the famous School of Arabic Studies, SAS Kano and taught in Zango, Daura and in Senior Primary School Dutsin-Ma. I was offered scholarship to study Islamic Studies in Sudan when I passed the GCE 'O' and 'A' levels. But I went to the late Isa Kaita of blessed memory who was the Northern Region Minister of Education ,and told him I want to change my University from Sudan to London in the United Kingdom school for Oriental and Arabic studies in London.The request was approved within two weeks and I was transferred from Sudan to London. The civil servants then were committed as Alhaji Muhammad Daku was the head of scholarship under Department of establishment. He made efforts that led me to secure admissions in many universities, Ahmadu Bello University offered me Law, but I turned down the offer because I wanted to study economics. I secured admission in London, but because of personal reasons and the harsh winter storm with snow, I and one of my contemporaries decided to come back to Nigeria and completed our degree in University of Lagos where the weather is fair.I graduated with a Bachelor in Science in Business Administration."

However, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim is a 78 year old successful businessman and politician who has an excellent recollection of events with dates. He speaks English, French, German and Russian, among local languages and loves football.He said, "I hail from Wamba Town in present day Nasarawa State and I was sent to school when I was six years old. In 1962 after we formed Nigeria Youth Congress, (NYC) which we affiliated with the communist world, I secured admission in Russia which was a communist country which did not have ties with Nigeria then. Security would undermine my journey, that was why I went with our group including late Bola Ige, Tanko Yakasai, and others who were radicals smuggled ourselves out to Ghana which was affiliated to USSR ,and we flew out.

In 1964, I had problems with the Soviet when they killed Ghanaians that had demonstrated, I took some of them into the Nigerian Embassy with KGB or Russian secret service trailing us, when Mister Adugolu was the Counsel-General as we didn't have an Ambassador then. The weather was different from that of Nigeria, but we coped by abiding by the advice they gave us that we must cover our selves properly. When we came back from Russia and after about four days, Mr Sullivan, an Englishman said I should dress to meet the Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as a Nigerian in my motherland and not like a Russian in Russia because of the dress I wore then. I wore my "Jabba" with red cap met Jaja Nwachukwu who was the Foreign Affairs Minister, Joe Iyala was the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. I was in USSR from 1962 till 1964. I told the Prime Minister that I want an opportunity to further our education. And the Prime Minister told them to make sure me and my colleagues demands were met. I was given scholarship with options between Moscow State University to study Journalism for five years for a degree level, or to study for two years in Western Germany for a Diploma program. I can speak Russian, but I choose Germany and studied in Hanover after a six month language class with practical lessons and not theory, from 1964 to 1966. A lot of friends visited me like Umaru Mutallab, Jibrin Sadisu, while Rilwan Lukman was in Vienna. As I coped with Russian weather, I found the mild German weather to be fair."

However, Professor Lawal M. Marafa is presently a Lecturer in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, China and a senior fellow, World Leisure Academy, he hails from Fakai in Zuru Emirate of Kebbi State who studied in Russia, England and Hong Kong, and has traversed the world extensively. He said, "I went to Russia, as in those communist rule days, there was no English curriculum, I learnt the language for one year before I did my first degree in Agriculture, obtained my master's degree in soil science in the Russian Agricultural Academy between 1979 to 1985. My present work entails travelling, as I have traveled to twenty countries in Europe, visited Canada, USA except Alaska and many parts of the world as a Professor of tourism and an agriculturist, even Russians don't like the winter storm in Russia as it sometimes reached up to minus 39 degrees, but when I was there, our houses or buildings are automatically heated up to plus 20 degrees, and we didn't even think of visiting Siberia because of the very harsh storm and snow. We have houses that have heaters and we were told to wear the appropriate dress when going out. They examine our health very well among other things. Nigeria is blessed as we have seven ecological regions from the wasteland area to the coastal area where you can farm so many things, palm, pineapples food, rice to the rain forest where you have teas to the guinea savanna this is one of the countries where in every season you can eat corn, where else can you do that?"

However, some of the respondents told their stories, but prefer anonymity. The first one said he was offered scholarship to study in London, but because of the snow and cold, he sought for transfer to continue his studies in University of Lagos. While the other person said when he visited England for the first time, the person that took him told the taxi to take them to a goldsmith and because the shop was hot, he refused to leave. The goldsmith told them to go and leave him to warm-up, that he would take him to their hotel in his car when he closed from the shop. He said since then, he never traveled to any country during winter storms or cold. He said he always preferred being in a hot or mild weather.

Similarly, a Nigerian who served in a peace keeping force, said he was surprised when personnel from Europe sometimes enter the cold-room to cool off saying that the weather is hot especially those serving in African countries. He advised Nigerians to always enquire about the weather of any country they wanted to visit to guard against frost bite among severe weather conditions, due to global warming among others.

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