The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) monitors, forecasts and predicts weather conditions. In this interview, the Director-General, Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu explains how NiMet weather advisory saved the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) about N120 billion in 2022.
You have been at NiMet for two years, how has the journey been?
Indeed, I have done two years as the CEO of NiMet but this is also my eighth year at NiMet. I worked as General Manager, Research before being appointed Director-General. One can say it has been an experience of ups and downs. In 2020, we passed through COVID, which really impacted the operations in aviation and has led to reduced revenue for the aviation agencies and not only NiMet. Secondly, it has been rewarding because as a staff member of NiMet, I have contributed my ideas from my directorate to the agency’s activities. But as a CEO directing affairs, I have the opportunity to realise my dreams on NiMet.
Within the last two years, we have tried as much as possible to bring NiMet into the limelight and in full gear. We have been able to reach all the strata of society cutting across all the sectors of the economy through simplified and user-friendly products and services, and we have been getting commendations and requests for tailored products and services. We just had a meeting with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), we have also met with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and have previously signed a MoU with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In the last two years, we have signed improved services in weather and climate. I am happy to announce that one forecast that we provided to a sector has saved Nigeria N120bn. The CBN informed us that by heeding our advisory in 2022 on flood prediction in the country, they withdrew their initial intent in providing about N120bn loan support to farmers in those locations. The funds would have been wasted as the farms would have been flooded away. This is the reason why they approached us for a partnership. This is what we usually tell our stakeholders; that they should consider our services beyond the revenue we generate because that avoidable cost of N120bn should be added as an aviation sector contribution to the GDP in 2022. We are very happy with this. Also, the last two years have been challenging in maintaining operations. We are present in more than 100 locations. We are present at all the airports, all the seaports, and all the states. In some states, we have three offices. We are running two schools, one in the north and the other in the south.
What do farmers and others say about the impacts of NiMet services?
If you recall, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika unveiled our annual Seasonal Climate Forecast on the 23rd of January 2023 in Abuja. We invited farmers and users of our forecast from the six geopolitical zones. Without talking to them. They gave their testimony on how the NiMet forecasts helped them save costs and maximise profits. All users, farmers, and water resources managers. Early warning practitioners, climate change agents, and agric extension workers. From our statistical records around the impacts on our forecasts, especially on farming, farmers are beginning to get improvements in yield by about 30 to 45 per cent. Also, a reduction of loss by extreme weather by more than 90 per cent. For early warnings, it has been established by the United Nations that if you invest N1 in early warning, you will save about N8, which comes in damage mitigation. We have seen what the CBN is reporting and heeding our advice has saved them more than N120bn. We have seen a lot of damages recorded in 2022 simply because our forecast wasn’t fully integrated into action plans, especially at the states and local government. So NEMA and the World Bank did research and the loss is colossal. We are getting a lot of positive reviews as to the impacts of our focus. One thing we do is also involve users in the co-generation of the forecast. We normally invite stakeholders from all the sectors – agric, water resources, environment and health, early warning and for them to interpret the forecast as it relates to them. For this, they take ownership and also generate instant feedback.
You have signed several MoUs including one with NIMASA, what should Nigerians expect?
Nigeria is not a landlocked country so we have a border with the Gulf of Guinea, which is the Southern Atlantic Ocean and it is a stretch of over 800km. strategically, NiMet installed eight stations in major ports around the coastline. We installed the necessary equipment including ocean buoys, and automatic weather stations for marine, and we also offer sea surface temperature and other vital parameters of interest. Nigeria is a major importer nation so we have a lot of ship liners that come to this country. They get weather services in other parts of the world but with this MoU, going forward, NiMet should be able to provide these services. We signed the MoU in 2021 with NIMASA and we hope to provide tailored services to the maritime sector through the NIMASA as we do for aviation. The MoU we have signed with the CBN should benefit about 20 million farmers too. We also call on other agencies like NNPC Limited and any agency interested in tailored services to also approach NiMet as there are benefits,
What new products has NiMet introduced?
What I met on the ground were products and services which were basic. We have adopted the WMO model on impact-based forecasts. Previously, we just provided forecasts and predictions to users and told them that it will rain, the temperature will be this, there will be wind in certain directions, there will be cold, heatwave etc. but we now go beyond these forecasts and tell the users and the public what exactly the weather will do. We say impacts will be positive or negative and we give necessary advisory. So, our Seasonal Climate Predictions, Climate and Health Bulletins, Marine Bulletins, Agromet Bulletin, are impact based. We have also translated the SCP in Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba. We are in the process of translating into Pidgin English and we are ready to partner anyone to translate into other local dialects in any part of this country.