By Hillary Asemota
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that the world leadership status attained by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) under the Buhari administration was a product of synergy and dexterity between political passion and professional expertise.
He made the assertion in an address to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Executive Council Session holding in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to Sirika, his passion for meteorological services began earlier in his political life as a member of Nigeria’s national assembly which has culminated in the synergy between the Political leadership and the professional headship that NiMet has enjoyed.
“I owe a great deal of gratitude to Almighty God for the journey I have been through in the meteorological community, which began in my previous role in the lower legislative chamber of Nigeria.” Sirika, added.
Onward through my time as a Senator in the Upper Chamber finally as the Minister of Aviation in the Executive arm of government. In these roles, my passion for meteorology grew and notable achievements were recorded.
He commended the support Nigerian Meteorology has received from the Secretary General of the world body without which his passion and the commitment of the NiMet management wouldn’t have achieved much.
The Minister averred: “And talking of passion, my appreciation goes to the WMO Secretary General, Prof. Petteri Taalas, who has shown tremendous support to the development of meteorology globally, in Africa and specifically in Nigeria.
Not only were you available physically to sign the host country agreement for the WMO Office in the region for North, Central and West Africa but you have also supported us in our seasonal climate prediction. Thank you”
According to the Minister, no programme or project would succeed without a strong understanding between the political class and the bureaucratic establishment. That understanding, he emphasised, created the enabling environment for the achievements recorded by Nigerian Meteorology.
“One practice that has enabled meteorological development in Nigeria is the strong synergy and support between the political class (which I represent) and the expert (represented by Prof. Matazu).
We strive to ensure we have the right leadership at the helm of affairs of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), and the agency under the leadership of Mansur Matazu, has also demonstrated commitment to excellence by judicious utilisation of resources, broad stakeholders’ engagements, and result-oriented goals with clearly detailed regular reporting”.
Under the Buhari Administration, NiMet, has grown in size, visibility and relevance, not only in Nigeria, but in the African region and indeed the global Meteorological community, and has introduced a number of products and services that have attracted stakeholders globally.
“New products have been introduced by the agency. These include Seasonal Climate Prediction (including its Summary for Policy Makers and translated version), the State of the Climate in Nigeria, Climate and Health Bulletin, Hydrometeorological bulletin, Agrometeorological bulletin, Extreme Weather Events Bulletin, Marine meteorological bulletin, 3-days Impact based Forecast and many more on different timescales and validity.
“These products and many more tailored services have generated lots of interest within the nation up to the Presidency that culminated into the President Personally commissioning a national Meteorological Institute of Science and Technology in his home State and in his honour”
The Minister also said that the government has ensured the increase in inter-Agency synergy along the Climate Services Value Chain, bringing together the meteorological, hydrological, disaster management and all responders together as we develop and practice Multi-hazard Early Warning System for All Nigerians.
NiMet forecasts, he further reiterated, provide basis for the Annual Flood Outlook and Disaster Preparedness in Nigeria by both Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency and National Emergency Management Agency (who are both in two separate Ministries of Governments).
“The Agency has provided interventions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Malawi in terms of Capacity Building. Technical Assistance, Quality Management Systems and Competency framework. We have successfully hosted, providing leadership, and participated in Regional Climate Outlook Forums.
He informed the participants that Nigeria was recently part of, and led the Country Hydromet Diagnostics (CHD) in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and hosted a Study Visit by both National Meteorological Services of Republic of Niger and The Gambia, while also providing hosting support for the WMO HydroSOS initiative and earnestly working to take the initiative to the implementation phase.
“All these are signs that we can get it right with strong commitment and political support in our NMHSs. We have also encouraged NiMet in pursuing PPE. This is exactly what we are doing at the Ministry of Aviation. Clearly, Government funding will never be enough” the Minister said.
He called on the World Meteorological Organization to intensify efforts in encouraging cooperation among Member-states and assist in bridging the existing gap between the Political Class and the Experts on the field.