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Sahara Desert Overrunning Nigeria before Our Watchful Eyes

May 31, 2009

I remember growing up as a young boy in the early 1970s in Michika Town in Michika local government area of Adamawa state, during that time the first rains will fall towards the end of February and early March. By then the farmers would have finished clearing their farms called ‘fee vwe’ in the Kamwe language. By the end of March and early April, the farmers would have finished planting their crops.

The first hoeing of the crops is done end of April and is called ‘Halli Ha’ yet again in the Kamwe language. There is also ‘gulbi ha’ in June and finally ‘laa belagadi’ at the end of July and the month of August. That was the sequence of farming that some of us grew up to witness in the Kamwe Land. But gradually this sequence has been altered by the effect of desertification in Kamwe land in particular and Nigeria in general. As I am writing this piece today May 2nd, it has only rained twice in Michika the whole of this year and farmers are still doing their ‘fee vwe.’

Even those of us that are laymen are agreeing with experts that the effect of desertification on Nigeria is real and is here with us. This is further confirmed by the drying up of most of the wells in Michika metropolis and the two major streams that run through the town. That is River Wathara and River Thalee. I remember vividly this well we call Rigiyan Sarki near the Michika club, it was dug in 1959 it never dried even during the dry season but it is dried up now. Others factors that I have noticed as a result of the desertification on Michika town is the increased heat period that is now lasting between October to May, instead of the usual November to March of each year. The ‘ndi kwangila’ we were used to as children is no more. ‘Ndi kwangila’ is catching of grasshoppers that children do in the early morning because the grasshoppers couldn’t fly because of the then cold weather. All that is gone now it seems. The Sahara Desert is gradually overrunning this once lush green Michika town.

I am writing this article with a special appeal and SOS to President Umaru Yar’ adua to please declare a state of emergency in tackling desertification in Nigeria. The National Assembly should as a matter of national importance enact a law in that view that all National Youth Service Corp Members (NYSC) for the next ten years should be deployed to tree planting to check desertification.

Civil Servants and some part of the military should be directed to have a day spared exclusively for tree planting once every month. Nigeria is in peace time for now.

All faculties of Agriculture in all Nigerian universities especially the universities in the North should direct all their graduating students to plant trees as part of their project.

I believe that the effect of desertification and in fact the dreaded global warming can be checked if the above measures amongst others are implemented.

Governments at various levels must take the issue of desertification very seriously. By massive tree planting, it may even lead to increased food production especially if economic trees are planted.

Investigation has shown that by mass re-forestation, the State of Israel has re-claimed barren desert and has now turn it into viable arable land. Please let our governments act now to save our Country from being completely run over by the Sahara Desert.

Mr President as you will soon be declaring state of emergency in the power sector, please declare that as well against desertification I am very sure Michika town will benefit.

Iliya Yame Kwache

Writes from Bama Road Michika

Opposite Union Bank Michika

Adamawa State.

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