It’s Getting Hot in Here…

I’m sure you know the rest. But I’m not sure how taking off all my clothes will make the situation better in Nigeria. It will probably provide some relief from the heat but make me more susceptible to Malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.

These are difficult times in Nigeria!…The President of Nigeria was recently out of the country recuperating from illness in London (he returned to Nigeria over the weekend but will need to travel back to London in three weeks), the death throes of the dry season have driven the daytime temps to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the Abuja International Airport closed last Wednesday for a six-week rehabilitation. Not to mention that the country is in one of the worst recessions it has ever faced and the inflation rate is near 20%. People in Nigeria are suffering, which makes it really difficult for me to complain about the heat and the airport closure.

To the international community, the airport closure is big deal. To the average Nigerian, the inconvenience is daily life. For months, we have been in security meetings, donor discussions and all out panic that one of the most important lifelines to Nigeria was closing for repairs. The Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is the second busiest airport in the country behind Lagos and from the tiny Capital city airport, you can escape to other parts of Africa and Europe. For Sheila and I, the closure feels like a forced stay-cation because we have no desire to trek down to Lagos to catch an international flight. We did that a few weeks ago when we went to Dubai and discovered that the trip adds a lot of undue stress on your body (and your heart).

Why is the airport closed? You might ask…The Nigerian government closed the international airport because the runway has fallen into disrepair and international carriers like British Airways and Lufthansa had threatened to leave if the runway was not repaired. Reports have stated that the runway, designed to last for 20 years has been in use for 34 years…14 years passed its expiration. The government closed the airport in 2014 on a few Sundays in July to make necessary repairs to the runway. The closure forced me to travel nearly 8 hours by road to Abuja after an event in Southwest Nigeria. This time, the closure will force me to remain in Nigeria for six weeks with very few options of taking an Easter Break.

Abuja flights are being re-routed through Kaduna, a city about 200 kilometers north of Abuja. The Kaduna expressway that takes travelers from Kaduna to Abuja is full of potholes and sporadic violence. A few weeks ago, two German archeologists were kidnapped along the Kaduna expressway as they were conducting excavations of a local culture.  No one was injured and the Germans were eventually released a few days later. However, situations like this have contributed to the hysteria that has surrounded the airport closure. Sadly, now that the airport is closed, all we can do is wait and see what happens and how Nigeria will respond to another unnecessary crisis. As Nigerians say, “It is well-ooooh.”

Now, I feel bad complaining about the current heat wave in Nigeria. It makes me sound like a spoilt American or a one percenter…but I’m sorry, the heat that has blanketed Abuja has been down right difficult to embrace. I realized as I was complaining about the heat and how the power supply has been up and down that I blogged about this very issue last year. The weeks leading to the start of the raining season are usually the hottest on record. And this year is no different. This is my third dry season in Nigeria and I still struggle to cope with the heat. But I have found some relief to the heat…the swimming pool on my compound. Did I say one percenter?…

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