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According to US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistics, weather is the cause of approximately 70 per cent of the delays in the National Airspace System (NAS). In addition, weather continues to play a significant role in a number of aviation accidents and incidents.
While National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports most commonly find human error to be the direct accident cause, weather is a primary contributing factor in 23 per cent of all aviation accidents. The total weather impact is an estimated national cost of $3 billion for accident damage and injuries, delays, and unexpected operating costs.
This explains why critical attention is paid to weather and industry stakeholders in Nigeria are of the view that Nigeria began to improve in air safety when there was effective regulation and improved prediction of weather due to highly skilled personnel and corresponding improvement in the deployment of weather equipment.
Issues of safety and weather came to the fore during the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP), which was held on Tuesday in Abuja as Aviation Minister, Sen. Hadi Sirika, and the Director General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, called on stakeholders and the general public to heed early weather warning by taking early action on weather related matters.
Speaking during his Keynote address, Sirika noted that one of the effective ways of mitigating climate-induced disasters is the provision of Early Warning Services, adding that NiMet over the years has been the pacesetter in Early Warning Services for all weather and climate sensitive activities across the country.
He however, stressed that ‘the early Warnings must be matched by Early Action so that it can translate to disaster risk reduction in Nigeria.’
This, he said, has been amplified by the recent flood of 2022 across several states in Nigeria.
“As highlighted in the opening remarks, destruction of over 569,000 Hectares of farmland, deaths of over 600 people and displacement of over 1.3 million persons in 34 out of the 36 states of the Federation are huge losses that must be prevented from reoccurring.” he added.
Sirika recalled that consequent on the 2022 flood disaster, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the constitution of the Presidential Steering Committee and Technical Working Group on the Prevention of the Flood disaster in Nigeria, noting that this further affirms the administration’s commitment to the issues of climate and climate related issues.
“While this committee and working group finalise on their work, NiMet, once again is ready to continue in its drive for the provision of accurate, timely, reliable, and actionable weather and climate prediction in Nigeria,” Sirika said.
He disclosed that Seasonal Climate Prediction that was unveiled was carefully prepared by team of experts and stakeholders.
According to him, “Relying on quality insitu weather data, adequate experience and reliable prediction tool, the Agency has put together the 2023 Seasonal Climate Prediction adopting the concept of co-production especially for the socio-economic implications of the predictions. You will agree with me that a forecast value is not complete until it’s impact-based with adequate advisories.
“The Agency is blessed with capacity and skills to offer these early warning services with confidence. For your information, the Agency not only offer services to Nigerians only but has been supporting Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, Malawi and Niger republic in Public Weather Services, Capacity building, Competency development, Quality Management Systems etc. In this hall today are delegations from the National Weather Service of Niger Republic on a study visit to NiMet.”
Sirika, who noted that aside the SCP, the Agency prepares a wide range publications and products, disclosed that in the 2023 SCP edition, day and night temperature forecast for May has been included to capture variability in recent climate and to cover the hot season in Nigeria which is usually observed between February and May.
He said the 2023 SCP document has also been translated into three major languages: Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, to provide increased access and encourage wider uptake in the country.
Part of the highlights is that the rainfall onset date is predicted to be earlier than the long-term average in most parts of the country. However, parts of Katsina, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, and Yobe in the north and Cross River, Ebonyi, Imo, and Rivers in the south are likely to experience a delayed onset.
The Onset is expected to become established in early March from the coastal states of Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom; in April for the Inland States of the South; in May around the Central States and around July in the northern States. The onset dates will range from 2nd March to 7th July 2023.
An early End of Season (EoS) is predicted over parts of the South (especially in Osun, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and eastern parts of Ogun and Lagos) and parts of Yobe, Adamawa, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi.
“Now that early warning has been provided, I encourage us all to embrace early action for maximum benefits and sustainable national socio-economic development. By so doing, collectively we would have stayed through to the theme of this event: ‘Strengthening Climate Risk Early Warning Services for Improved Food Security and Disaster Risk Reduction in Nigeria’,” he said.
Speaking during his vote of thanks, NiMet DG, Prof. Mansur Matazu, called on all to embrace early action, noting that with the NiMet new Act of 2022, “We are optimistic of effective collaborations going forward.”
He thanked stakeholders, both in and outside of Nigeria for their support and contributions.
“While appreciating everyone, I therefore call on all to embrace Early Action and follow us for in-season updates as we work together to maximise success and de-risk our activities.
“Without you partners and collaborators across MDAs, development partners, the academia, and research institutes, among others, our services would not be complete. We thank you for your support and contribution especially in the co-production process of this very important national document”, he added.