Posted by Sade Williams
On the 15th of February, 2022, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) presented the 2022 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Centre in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.
The timing of the event was strategic and understandable, as NiMet usually hold the public presentation of the vital document before the start of the rainy season to allow adequate planning and policy formulation.
The SCP contains information on: onset and cessation dates of the cropping season, length of the growing period, rainfall amount, temperature forecasts for the hot season (January to April) and dry spell and little dry season. It also contains information that has to do with malaria and meningitis vigilance, and socio economic implications of the prediction.
The elaborate event was massively attended by diverse representations from across the country and all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Speaking during his keynote address, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika pointed out that, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic which ravaged the global economy in the past few years, climate change and climate variability continue to be a reality which Nigerians cannot shy away from.
Senator Sirika who unveiled the 2022 SCP, noted that many disastrous weather and climate events have continued to increase in intensity and frequency, bringing untold hardship to the people and straining further already fragile economy.
He reminded the audience that in recent weeks, Nigeria’s aviation industry has witnessed many flights cancellation and delays to bad weather causing economic losses and social discomfort.
A case in point is the recent outcry by airline operators in the country, lamenting that in 2021 alone, all the operators lost a whopping sum of about N20 billion due to flight delays and cancellations.
Vice President of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON ), Barrister Allen Onyema who spoke on behalf of the local operators observed that, most of these flight disruptions have been traced largely to weather related matters.
The Minister therefore, commended the theme of this year’s Seasonal Climate Prediction: “Strengthening Climate Actions through Timely and Impact-based Climate Prediction for Economic Recovery, advising that, every sector of the economy must therefore, put in place measures to alleviate the sufferings of the people and improve the economy.
He equally applauded NiMet for the diligence put in place continously to bring to Nigerians weather and climatological forecasts touching on different areas of their socio-economic lives in accordance with its mandate.
In his presentation, Director General /CEO of NiMet, Prof Mansur Bako Matazu said that, the Seasonal Climate Prediction is one of NiMet’s flagship products, an invaluable tool that has helped lots of farmers improve their yields.
According to him, SCP has also helped increase and improve the level of preparedness by Emergency Management Agencies, complement the flood prediction by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), and served as an advisory tool for many stakeholders at the Federal, State and Local Government levels.
He therefore, noted that the content of the document is multi-sectoral, which will co-produce socio-economic implications of the predictions and relevant stakeholders.
Explaining further, the importance of SCP to nation building, Matazu who is a permanent representative of Nigeria with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) emphasised that “We are all living witnesses to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and how many economies have struggled. In Nigeria, one of the pathways for economic recovery is agriculture. However, many of the agricultural practices are climate dependent and largely rainfed. It is important to recognise the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria on developing the agricultural sector for sustainable green economy, focusing on food system development agenda that will lift hundred (100) million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade”.
According to him, the Government aims to prioritise healthy diets and affordable nutrition through inclusive, efficient, resilient, and sustainable agriculture which will contribute to job creations and sustainable economy growth.
Matazu however, informed that in compliance with government’s progressive agenda, NiMet is excited to push this vision and help in the recovery of the economy after the trying phase where the global pandemic affected some of the gains made previously through agriculture.
“The vagaries of weather and climate is not limited to agriculture. Other socio-economic sectors also have weather and climate as a critical component. That is why the SCP, which will be unveiled today by the Honourable Minister of Aviation, is very essential for all “, he said.
According to the DG, the challenges of variability in climate viz a viz global warming which has in recent times given rise to high rainfall amounts occurring within a short duration has made flash flood episodes more frequent.
Several roads, he said were decimated in 2021, among which are the Maiwa bridge, along Bauchi – Kano highway, Ningi local government area of Bauchi state, the single day rainfall event of 16th July 2021 over Lagos metropolis which flooded a large portion of Lagos Island including the popular Balogun market.Increased severity of dry spells episodes in parts of Jigawa, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe and Nasarawa states”.
He warned that, with such recurring extreme events, the SCP becomes a veritable tool to notify relevant stakeholders and emergency managers of the anticipated rainfall pattern within the season for necessary mitigation plans.
The NiMet boss equally appealed for strong collaboration with organisations of government at all levels, as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), adding that, their feedbacks are necessary input in helping the agency improve the document and serve Nigerians better.
He maintained that NiMet services cut across aviation, telecommunications, power and energy, agriculture, building and construction, oil & gas, disaster risk reduction & management, education, defence, marine & maritime, health, finance & insurance, among others, in support of sustainable socio-economic activities in Nigeria.
Examining how NiMet came to limelight, the agency’s former boss, Dr Anthony Anuforom traced the it to the immediate directive by the minister of information to national Radio and Television stations to broadcast NiMet’s daily predictions.
This Anuforom said gave the agency maximum recognition across the country and expressed joy that NiMet has maintained its vibrancy especially under the present management of Prof Matazu.