The serene and beautiful city of Jos seats above 1200 meters above sea level. It is interspersed by rocky formations, hills, valleys, streams and aquifers which amplifies its uniqueness among other cities in Nigeria.
Because of these unique features, the city is a tourist attraction hence the sobriquet “Home of peace and tourism”.
Apart from the unique physical features, what makes Jos different from others is the presence of exotic fruits and vegetables that visitors often buy as special gifts to their loved ones.
Produce like irish potatoes, cucumber, apples, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, cucumbers are available in the city.
However, what is more unique about the city is the weather condition and that accounts for the growth and development of the city over the last century.
Over a century ago, the city hosted foreigners who came as expertrates, administrators, businessmen and missionaries. The weather was the major attraction for these foreigners.
Suffice it to say, Jos is an old mining town. It has been a great source of Tin and columbite ore for foreign and local miners.
Meanwhile, the social and economic life of Jos is mostly shaped by the weather condition. Undoubtedly the coldest city in the country, Jos has an “average monthly temperature range from 21°C- 25°C and from mid- November to late January, night time temperatures drop as low as 7°C”, according to Wikipedia.
The manner in which the residents dress, the social life, the type of business that thrives and even the food people eat is reflective of the cold weather. For instance, Jos is famous for second hand cloth business. Clothing like jeans wears, jackets, blankets, sweaters, assorted shoes are in high supply and demand, not only to residents but traders from neighbouring States. In fact, there is a special market for second hand clothes known as the “Katako market”.
Also, Jos city has an unusually high number of bars and taverns where people hangout to catch fun and escape the cold. Hardly can one find a street without a bar or tavern. These outlets cater for all manner of customers, from the high, medium and low income earners. These outlets sell beer, spirits and locally made alcohol and are specially prepared to meet the needs of all categories of customers in the cold city of Jos.
The proliferation of taverns in Jos has taken its toll on the youth. The popularly sold illicit gin known as “Goskolo”, is highly consumed by the youth because it is cheap and highly intoxicating. Its negative social and health effect on consumers had at one time forced the immediate past governor, Jonah Jang, to restrict its sale through an executive order. When that failed, the House of Assembly made a law banning its sale. In fact, that law was “dead on arrival” as the Goskolo market became even more resilient, lucrative and visible. That is Jos for you!
As a result of the proliferation of these outlets, Jos has witnessed the insurgence of violent crime like cultism, gangsterism, robbery and drug addiction. Also, anti-social vices like prostitution and pimping thrives with its attendant effects like homicide, ritual killing, cases of missing persons and STDs.
Places that are notorious for such activities are the popular West of Mines, “Obalende”, Kugiya, Kabong and Rayfield just to mention a few.
The most popular of the above is the West of Mines, where one can find assorted spirits, beer and assorted drugs being sold in a chain of bars. Complimenting that is the barbeque business where roasted fish, chicken, pepper soup, goat head (Isi-ewu), food and so on are being sold.
For those who don’t consume alcohol, there are a few coffee and tea shops and the itinerant “mai-shayis” (tea hawkers), who are readily available to serve hot tea and coffee to customers.
Then in the dark corners of joints like West of Mines, are skimpily dressed young ladies waiting to be taken for a one-night-stand by any interested customer. The one-night-stand business was very common in the past but for the risk involved, most girls would prefer a ‘short time’ in one of the chalets around. If a customer insist on home service, then he must part with more.Sometimes, a ‘quickie’ could suffice depending on the condition.
The hospitality business is therefore the hottest in Jos city and it cannot be unconnected with the weather condition which attacks patronage.
Meanwhile, Jos city had a few industries that thrived in the 80s and 90s which are now moribund. The only market, the state-of- the-art main market was burnt by arsonists thereby denying the state a large chunk of revenue. So many facilities like the indoor theatre, zoo, wildlife park, hotels and some potential revenue generating government agencies, are not being put to good use and so the state lost its status as an industrial and tourism hub to a mere civil service state.
Only during festivities that businesses boom, as attested by Danjuma Hassan, a barbecue operator at the popular West of Mines. He said “there is nothing in January except the cold. Everyone runs to his home. 6 or 7pm everyone disperses from here. In fact by 8pm, you will see very few cars. The market has gone low. We only thank God because sometimes you gain, sometimes you lose, the cold has really affected our market”.
In fact, on observation of the major relaxation spots in the city shows that businesses have gone low with very low patronage. It can’t be ascertained whether that is due to the cold weather or the usual “January recession”.
But trust Josites, no matter the recession or the weather condition, social life remains constant. That’s what makes the city quite unique.