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Borno’s desperate search for rains

Since the beginning of 2009, it has not rained more than six times across Borno. While there have often been geological signs, rains haven’t dropped…

Since the beginning of 2009, it has not rained more than six times across Borno. While there have often been geological signs, rains haven’t dropped for over a month, as at last Thursday. It was for that reason that a high procession, such that was never witnessed in recent years, was held at an open field in Maiduguri to seek spiritual help for rains to drop. Led by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Adamu Shettima Dibal and the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai el-Kanemi, hundreds of people gathered as early as 7.00 am last Thursday and offered prayers for rains on an open field in Maiduguri.

 The procession is proscribed in Islamic religion and the residents thought the situation called for such desperate measures. But even before that grand gathering, numerous mosques had organised similar prayers.

Residents were really amazed when it rained heavily a day after many offered similar prayers rains, following a call on the people by the Shehu of Borno to commence the prayers. That rains was, however, the last. It last rained in Maiduguri in May.

But scientists feel the rainy season hasn’t quite delayed this year in Borno.

Zonal manager of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Zakariyya’u Darazo Abdurrasheed, told Kanem Trust that there was no cause for alarm over the lack of rainfall as it had been predicted that rains would commence between June and July in Borno state. He said that each year the agency produced and issued annual rainfall prediction for various parts of the country and that it was not the first time Borno would be experience late rainfall.

He noted that Borno is located at the Sahel region where rainfall is witnessed very late due to its high temperature and proximity to desert.

“NIMET’s prediction for rainfall forecasts for the southern part of Nigeria usually precede those for the north by, at least, three months. Even with this, other parts of north will still witness rains earlier than Borno, so people should not panic. Rain will definitely come since our prediction is between June and July,” he insisted.           

Abdurrasheed pointed out that the apprehension over the rains should be dropped. “I didn’t see reason why people will be scared despite the fact that we have just entered July. The weather is very much okay and they should expect bumper harvest. What people don’t normally know was that planting season used to fluctuate.

“ For instance, the general belief among the people was that if rains started in March last year, it must also start in the same month the following year, which  is not necessary. There might be some plus or minus. That is why we take it based on our prediction. This is  a normal thing that occurs yearly; rains normally come when the worries of the people have reach its peak. It is just that people normally forget, so professionally nothing is wrong with the  non-commencement of regular rains.

 

“People should start appreciating our prediction. Presently, you will realize that the temperature of the state has totally changed. It has become low, compared to previous weeks. Presently, the state is very cold with low heat, contrary to the other weeks. This indicates that rainfall will soon set in,” he added.   

Such an explanation by the meteorologist didn’t, however, satisfy some religious clerics, most of who believe that there are no rains because people do evil things in Borno, like in other places, and the poor rainfall being experienced is punishment from God. They maintained that the situation was a clear indication that God was angry with the people and that there was an urgent need for everyone to seek forgiveness and abstain from sins or else the problem will persist.  

Speaking in an interview with Kanem Trust, an Islamic scholar based in Maiduguri, who is also the Chief Imam of Ndimi mosque, Sheikh Ibrahim Muhammad said; “I disagree with the view of some people who argued that there was nothing to worry about, though the planting season is yet to commence. We are supposed to be in the middle of the season and people have every reason to worry. The only solution to this problem is that both Muslims and Christians should embark on massive prayers and go back to the Almighty God to seek for forgiveness of our sins and avoid them”.

Asked the categories of sins that delays rainfall, the Chief Imam said “based on Islamic principles, sins believed to be responsible for delaying downpour are adultery, fornication, homosexual acts, consumption of alcohol, viewing of phonographic movies and fraud. God delays rains, not as a punishment but gives signs to sinners to realise their sins and seek forgiveness. It is unfortunate that most of the people fail to recognise this critical situation and return to the right path. Instead, they are busy concentrating on worldly affairs”.

Sheikh Muhammad also said that in addition to seeking forgiveness and abstinence from sins, Muslims are expected to offer two special raka’ats at congregational prayers, as taught by the Prophet S.A.W. “The Prophet teaches that whenever people experience inadequate rainfall, they should seek forgiveness, abstain from sins and observe two congregational prayers like Eid-prayers, which is to be performed between 8.00am to 10.00am. The prayers, which will be observed repeatedly till the time God answers the prayers, is expected to be attended by adults and teenagers. But its unique feature is that worshippers should not wear new clothes, as against the Eid-prayers. They should present themselves as very lowly, like those who have sinned and seeking forgiveness and Allah’s mercies,” he further stressed. 

The imam suggested that as parts of steps to control the situation, there was need for those in the corridors of power to close down black spots like beer parlours, casinos and prostitution joints located in various nooks and crannies where sins are often committed.

Indeed, the Shehu of Borno shares the views of the Imam when even in his first call, he charged residents to adopt characters that are prescribed by God and avoid engaging in immoral conducts so as to continually enjoy divine mercies.

Though the Shehu, like other residents, are worried about the lack of rains, no group seems more affected than farmers in the state. The chairman of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Borno, Alhaji Bukar Bulin, said members of the association were seriously disturbed and had since commenced prayers so that there will be rain.  

“You know, we don’t have anything doing besides farming. It is our source of livelihood. Presently, our members lack regularly sleep due to this problem, but we are optimistic that God will surely come to our aid. Our major concern was that this may affect food production and that the prices of foodstuff may skyrocket in the markets,” he lamented.

Alhaji Bulin called on the state and federal governments to, as matter of urgency, purchase large quantities of grains and keep in reserves to curtail food scarcity, should there be drought, so that the reserves could be sold to residents at subsidised rates.

In his comment, the Chairman, Borno State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA), Muhammad Rijiya, also expressed concern on lack of rainfall. He even said he was heading a special committee which was seeking to raise the sum of N10 million, which will be utilised in bringing together clerics who would be fed and mobilised for them to continue to pray, until rains begin to fall regularly in Borno environs.

Coincidentally, or as an answer to the peoples prayers, there was a heavy downpour in Maiduguri last Friday