The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) said perhaps, the high level of floods currently experienced in many parts of the country would have been minimized if state governments had taken the weather forecasts of the agency more seriously.
The Director-General of NiMet, Professor Mansur Bako Matazu who was represented by the Director, of Weather Forecasting Services of NiMet, Mailadi Yusuf, an engineer at a 2-Day NEEDS Assessment Workshop for Stakeholders in the Marine and Oil and Gas Sector regretted that unfortunately, it was only when the floods came that many states started panicking because of lack of what to do with the forecast given to states concerning the disaster.
He noted that the workshop was very important and strategic especially in a period when climate and economic uncertainties are on the increase with attendant threats to lives, property, and socio-economic prosperity.
His words, “We are saying that if they had listened to us, we offered to help. We asked them to invite us and put their stakeholders together so that we can train them on the use of the information so that we can come and engage with them. We could have had a window by giving them an update, reminding them that the forecast said this and by so time, expect this”.
“Unfortunately, they did not come forth to come and take the information to the grass root and look at what is happening today. After the floods have come that everybody is shouting for relief funds”.
The current floods across many states have been attributed to the opening of some dams in Cameroon and Nigeria, coupled with late rainfalls that have wrecked havoc in some states.
Speaking on the accuracy of its forecasts, the NiMet boss said, “in February and we said we are going to witness more than normal rainfall. Above-normal rainfall means that there will be more rainfall compared to the 30-year average that we compute. It is coming to pass. You have a lot of rainfall in the country with flooding taking place. We said rainfall is going to be to so period and it is coming to pass.
“We are saying that the cessation date for most of the rains that most parts of the country may be over early. The rains have stopped. We said that there are going to be dry spells in South West and South-South in late October. The rains have stopped. I don’t like quoting figures. If I say 90 percent of our predictions have come to pass and that is an A”.
He reiterated that before now, in the meteorological community, weather and climate are two thematic areas that are constantly being referenced, stressing that as they improve in their understanding of the changing climate and the genesis of extreme weather phenomena which he said had become necessary to devote more attention to the issue of water and water-related activities.
“Hence, what you are more often likely to come across within the meteorological community is the shift towards the phrase ‘weather, climate, and water”.
On the reduction of foreign and private service providers in the maritime sector, he stressed that the prevailing practice where private and foreign companies give out and charge for meteorological information, if stopped, would improve the country’s security and economy, and strengthen NiMet’s capacity tremendously.
“These services are basically meteorological marine services and presently most of the services are provided by foreign service providers and private providers, not necessarily foreign, some are Nigerian and we don’t know them but we know the service going on in those sectors someone is providing those services”.
“We are trying to, by this workshop, show that we have the capacity and capability to actually give the same information that our stakeholders are taking from elsewhere.
“So, probably they are not aware that NiMet provides these services and through this workshop, we will enlighten them that these services are available in-house and you don’t have to go anywhere or any foreign meteorological agency to get this or go to any private sector person that would charge you exorbitantly, that the Nigerian government has established NiMet to deliver those services,” he said.
Matazu stated that NiMet’s desire was to increase the uptake of its products and services within its domain and indeed by all Nigerians and reduce drastically the acquisition of such services from foreign providers, which he noted is the prevailing practice, thus.
All these he said would impact positively on the country’s security and economy, and, strengthen the capacity of the agency to deliver in line with the provisions of the Nigerian Local Content Development and Enforcement Act.