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Fickle Weather Taunts Nigeria - 2002-06-17


In northern Nigeria, an unusually long dry spell has crippled food crops and left dozens dead. A News Agency of Nigeria report from the state capital of Bauchi says the governor has given Christian and Moslem workers two hours every day for the next two weeks to pray to God for rain.

They are also to ask for forgiveness for sins, which some believe might have been responsible for the dry spell.

Observers say the lack of rain since April is giving farmers in the state serious concern. They say unless there's quick relief, there could be a crop failures and food shortages.

Meanwhile, the prolonged hot season has started taking its toll. Reports coming from neighbouring Borno state say at least 60 people have so far died of heat stroke. Analysts say this figure is conservative, as most rural people do not report deaths to local authorities.

But it is a different story for people outside the north. Many parts of the tropical south are complaining of too much rain.

For example, the commercial capital Lagos has experienced a downpour every day this past week. While it has lowered temperatures from over 35 degrees centigrade to around 30 degrees, it has also brought its own problems.

Many roads in this city of over 13 million inhabitants, which are barely passable in the dry season, are now riddled with pot holes. As a result, commuters now spend long hours on the road.

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