The local and international recognitions given to the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, based on its tremendous progress in the last two years, speaks volume of its quest to become a globally recognized agency, writes Chinedu Eze.
In addition to other services it provides, the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has contributed immensely in the safety status recorded by Nigeria’s aviation sector, which has not suffered any major accident involving commercial airline in the past 10 years.
But NiMET was not that into reckoning for many years until Dr Anthony Anuforom took over as the Director-General of the agency and when he left, industry observers said it went into downward trajectory until the appointment of the current Director General, Professor Mansur Bako Matazu who has significantly transformed the agency and put it on a global map.
Under Professor Matazu who took over on March 17, 2021 as Director General, NiMET has won global acclaim and priceless awards that have designated it as the met agency to beat in Africa and one of the best in the world.
Recently NiMET clinched 9th position on Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard (EICS) of MDAs by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
In an advertorial, the anti corruption body listed NiMet as having attained 9th position in the overall ranking out of 404 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) administered in 2023 with NiMet scoring 78 percent and second position in the Presidency and Extra Ministerial category.
According to ICPC, the objective of administering the EICS is particularly to track ethical, integrity and compliance deficiencies in the MDAs, and proffer remedial actions for the management of the MDAs and the government as appropriate.
For Ministries, Departments and Agencies’ effectiveness and responsiveness, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the scorecard as configured are to identify some ethics and integrity standards that MDAs must comply with within the areas of Management, Performance, Service and Professional Conduct.
Also, Nigerian Meteorological Agency was awarded the Service Provider of the Year 2022 award by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents. The award was in recognition of NiMet’s improved service delivery.
In the same 2022, just a year Professor Matazu took over as the Director General, the Management of Air Transport Quarterly Magazine (ATQ) gave the prestigious “ATQ AVIATION MAN OF THE YEAR” award to Matazu.
NiMet also acquired the recertification of the International Standard Organization ISO 9001:2015 and the International Standard Organization ISO 29990:2010 for the provision of aeronautical meteorological services and capacity building at its Regional Training Centre (RTC), in Lagos and Muhammadu Buhari Meteorological Institute of Science and Technology (MBMIST), Katsina respectively.
According to Prof. Matazu, the implication of this recertification is like the stamp of standardisation of service delivery by an international organisation and gives a guarantee on the precision and efficiency of NiMe’s products and services.
He revealed that the agency is exposing its operations to quality management systems and even transforming to Safety Management Systems (SMS), across all its operations in the country and assured that NiMet is striving to do more and is open to assist other MDAs of government to pass through this process.
Also, recently, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms in the Presidency celebrated the Nigerian Meteorological Agency and its Director General, as awardees of the prestigious Nigeria GovTech Award 2023 in the category of the Best Federal MDA in Data Management and Analytics; while the DG/CEO Professor Matazu received the Distinguished GovTech Trailblazer Award for exemplary Leadership demonstrated in advancing GovTech initiative and digital governance with NiMet in line with the Federal Government Digital Transformation in the Public Sector.
So, this bouquet of awards is a testament of the exceptional achievements of NiMET, which has been internationally recognized as met agency in Africa known for its accurate weather prediction and which has extended its services to many other countries on the African continent.
Serving beyond boundaries
Under Prof. Matazu, NiMET extended its services to Liberia, Sierra Leone and other African countries. He has given the met agency global outlook and recognition in such a manner that it has become a representative of sub-Saharan Africa in advancement of meteorology and contribution to accurate weather forecasting.
THISDAY confirmed that today, NIMET renders daily services to Sierra Leone and Liberia and is assisting many countries in West and Central Africa to develop their meteorology organisations. This further burnish the experience of NIMET as service provider for accurate weather prediction.
“We do provide technical service to some countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Niger etc, as I said. There is what we call WMO VCP (Voluntary Country Partnership), which is called in ICAO as ‘No Country Left Behind’. So weather is dynamic and it moves from one area to the other. So, if you have the capability and you don’t share that expertise to your neighbours, I don’t think you are helping. Example, in Nigeria, if there is a problem in Niger Republic relating to drought and flood, we have over a thousand kilometers borders, all of them would move to Nigeria. That is number one. The reason America and other countries are called Superpowers is by providing some of these supports,” he said.
Matazu disclosed that NIMET has been working with many international agencies to broaden its horizon and deepen its knowledge and experience. The agency started Volume Coverage Pattern (VCP) with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and according to Matazu, “In the VCP meeting that we attended, Nigeria was the only black nation because you have US, UK, Spain, Netherlands, eight of them plus Nigeria because we want to show the world that we are not a beggar nation in all ramifications, even in the science of weather and services, we are not waiting for any country.
“We had a meeting with the French Government. We are going to do a programme with them and they were very happy with what they have seen. This provides credibility, trust and relevance and with that you would get recognised by the global community and they suggested Nigeria will help these other countries under this United Nations financed Systematic Observation Financing Facility (SOFF). The essence of this SOFF is based on the UN Secretary General’s statement that in the next five years, all citizens in the world must have access to early warning about weather; you have seen what happened in Libya; 10,000 people unaccounted for and more than 6,000 people confirmed dead in one incident. But if these people got early warning, it has been confirmed globally that if people get early warning on any imminent weather hazard, you are bound to reduce casualties by more than 70 percent. But if they get the information one week ahead, it will increase the number that will be saved,” he said.
Under Prof. Matazu, NiMET renewed training programmed that were hitherto abandoned or neglected because personnel training is critical to dovetail to the changing world; especially in the area of sciences.
“Our human resources are critical. We have improved the conditions of service for staff. We have also introduced mentoring culture where the senior staff train the junior staff, we have also created an open process where staff have access to management staff. As a CEO, I still go and interact with messengers and cleaners to understand what they feel and get inputs from them on how we can improve. This has increased productivity. We have also improved the work environment experiences by renovating our offices at the headquarters in Abuja and other offices across the country” he said.
According to him, the headquarters was more than one decade old and had degraded.
“We had to make it look more modern. We have also touched on all aspects of our operations. Even though our salaries within the aviation sector is much lower, we are working on improving through our parent ministry and other relevant MDAs. Improving infrastructure is critical because some of the buildings are over 50 years old so we needed to upgrade them. Which we did.
“With the support of the staff, we have fared well and we have adopted a bottom-top approach in decision making and everyone is feeling ownership and carried along. This is the secrete to our success in the last two years. NiMet has also intensified training and retraining of its staff across all cadres and on diverse subject matters, including budgeting.
“Some other training includes: training of Meteorologists on Air Quality Monitoring, Development of Forecasts & Advisories, Scientific Evaluation and Update of the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) 2022 Mid-Season; NiMet Training for Forty (40) Meteorological Observers & Forecasters at the Meteorological Institute of Science and Technology, Katsina and Five-Day Training Programme On Information Security Management (ISMS) ISO/27001 and ISO/IEC 20000 Lead Auditor Training,” he said.
Matazu added that training was carried out to implement the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO)2022 Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) in Nigeria and the Status Audit and Gap Analysis of NiMet Aeronautical Meteorology Operations at 12 Airports.
Accurate Weather Prediction
Pilots who fly for domestic airlines and those who fly for international airlines have at different fora acknowledged the reliability of weather prediction by NiMET. In fact, a pilot that had operated into Nigeria for over a decade for Europe-based mega carrier, told THISDAY that International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association (IFALPA) monitored progressive reliability of weather reports from Nigeria; adding that pilots flying into Nigeria and even over fliers rely on weather reports from NiMET; unlike in the past when they relied on satellite and ASECNA (Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar) for weather reports.
In the last two years, NiMet has introduced modern technology for more reliable and timely climate prediction and weather forecasts to guide socio-economic activities across the country. The agency embarked on improving and upgrading the weather observation infrastructure across the country.
NiMet under Prof Matazu’s watch changed the annual public release of the Seasonal Climate Prediction (SCP) from March to January every year. This early climate prediction release is to enable weather users to plan. This early release is critical for planning due to the associated disasters, especially around flooding, weather-induced diseases, and other socio-economic activities.
NiMet weather observatory stations were also upscaled to more than 100 locations across the country.
“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” Matazu disclosed.
THISDAY also learnt that Earth Networks (EN), a US Based Company also donated 10 Lightning Sensors and 10 Automatic Weather Stations to NiMet to improve forecasts.
NiMet has also ensured an impact based forecast in order to improve the adaptation of weather information across all segments of the economy, especially agriculture, health, aviation, transportation, industry, maritime, insurance, environment, and other critical areas.
According to NiMet data, with the impacts on weather forecasts, farmers are beginning to get improvements in yield by about 30 to 45 percent. Also, there is a reduction of loss by extreme weather by more than 90 percent based on NiMet early warnings and downscaled weather predictions.
Institutions and individuals in Nigeria have adopted NiMET’s weather reports to plan their activities and save costs.
In aviation, weather report is critical requirement for flying and no aircraft goes into the air without the pilot knowing that weather is safe in the airspace and on the ground to fly.