The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, (NUC), Abuja, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR, FNAL hosted a formidable team from Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) led by its Director General, and Chief Executive Officer, Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi last Wednesday in his office.
In welcoming the Director General, Prof. Rasheed expressed his appreciation for Nigerian peaceful and conductive environment which was the reason NiMet could not have been the most discussed Agency in Nigeria. Oversees, he said, the most talked about issue in the United Kingdom (UK) has always been a lot of information on weather conditions.
This led the scribe to recalled when he was a primary pupil at his village where reading of weather was carried out every morning and a clean record kept; stating that no one among his colleagues could remember what the generated data was use for, bemoaning that the culture had since been abandon. NiMet, according to him, should reintroduce this culture, from the grass root, for generation of raw data.
He stated that NiMet must reach out to stakeholders so that all hands could be on deck to generate information in visible form to be use in determining critical issues in meteorology.
He consented to the idea of advocacy embarked by Professor Mashi to get people informed on the operations and weather forecast in addressing issues related to climate change.
He opined that NiMet could help in the area of dry land Agriculture and Centres of Excellence towards Production of Masters of Science and Doctors of Philosophy degrees in the Nigerian Universities.
The Executive Secretary was optimistic that the DG and his team would consider his advice and assured that the commission agreed to partner with NiMet to complement its efforts.
In his presentation, the Director General/Chief Executive Officer, NiMet, Prof. Mashi informed the Executive Secretary that The Nigerian Meteorological Agency was established by an Act of the National Assembly- NIMET (Establishment) Act 2003, enacted on 21st May, 2003 and became effective on 19th June, 2003 following the Presidential assent.
The Agency, according to him, was ”charged with responsibility to advice government on all aspects of meteorology; project, prepare and interpret government policy in the field of meteorology; and to issue weather (and climate) forecasts for the safe operations of aircrafts, ocean going vessels and oil rigs”. He further said that it has been ”the responsibility of the Agency to observe, collate, collect, process and disseminate all meteorological data and information within and outside; coordinate research activities among staff, and publish scientific papers in the various branches of meteorology in support of sustainable socio-economic activities in Nigeria.”
The Director General also informed the scribe that the department of meteorology predates Nigeria as a nation; in fact, it was there before the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914.
Nigeria has about 900,000 square Km with only 54 meteorological stations, adding that the World Meteorological guideline stated that, for an effective monitoring of meteorological issues, every 100 square Km requires a station.
According to him, climate change remained critical that has to do with ”change in weather conditions or time variation caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiations or volcanic eruptions.” Prof. Sani maintained that statistics, measurements and experiments as well as data generation become necessary to make future projections, and link causes and effects in climate change.
He announced that NiMet had decided to establish 34 TAHMO generation stations in some selected universities as a pilot scheme. This necessitated the coming of NiMet delegation to NUC, being the agency in charge of coordinating universities in Nigeria, to seek for a robust and viable partnership with a view of extending the Agency’s services to universities.
The CEO expressed his shock and worry over the dilapidating conditions of instruments available at Geography departments of the visited universities, when his team went for familiarization tour to the institutions. In some Universities, the instruments were either absent, obsolete or not calibrated, he lamented. He pointed out that most of the researches conducted under such scenarios called for concern.
To nip the bud, he stressed, there was need for equable synergy between NiMet and Universities to develop partnership that would guaranty cut-edge research by generating, interpreting and use of data in meteorology and its related field. The NiMet CEO conveyed that he was prepared to deploy resources to the Universities for the upgrade, affirming that students and faculty would immensely benefit from the partnership.
He declared that this would be achieved through capacity building which the DG/CEO NiMet pledged to pursue by training staff of the universities in the area of meteorology and its related discipline at NiMet expenses.
Prof. Mashi disclosed that United Nations Development Program (UNDP) had set aside substantial fund to train personnel in the area of meteorology and NiMet would be willing to link the Universities with it and other external agencies willing to assist in that direction. He opined that once NUC agreed to drive this process, the dividend to be accrued would be enormous.
It was on this note that the DG/CEO and his management team called on the NUC to drive the process and ensure that the initiative gets the necessary attention, acceptability and sustainability.
He concluded by presenting the names of selected universities that cut across the six Political Zones of the country, pronouncing that the list presented was the first leg of the exercise.
In his response, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof. Rasheed described the presentation of the NiMet CEO as an inaugural lecture of a renowned Professor. He expressed his happiness over the laudable initiative and wondered how Agencies of government and institutions especially universities prefer to stand in isolation. The scribe recalled the tradition on other climes where Agencies and Research Institutions foster synergy to develop and move their countries forward.
He emphasized that it was a common knowledge that universities all over the world drive innovations, research and other development initiatives but lamented the situation in Nigeria where Partnerships become difficult and weak where available.
Prof. Rasheed pledged that the universities would be mobilized to actualize this wonderful and long awaited enterprise for development, asserting that the universities would be required to do the needful for the common good of the institutions, reeling out some of the benefits to be accrued to include: sources of knowledge, generation of data, and publication of monthly or annual digest amongst other uses.
The Executive Secretary requested NiMet to cover all universities regardless of its proprietorship for national development and growth. He was optimistic that the stations within the universities would guaranty security of such facilities and reduce cost and hope it will be jointly owned.
Professor Rasheed concluded by positively believing that the partnership might possibly harvest Centres of Excellence in Meteorological studies capable of producing M.Sc, and PhDs.
The visit was crown by presentation of the list of the thirty four universities selected for the first leg of the project by Director General, and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi to the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR, FNAL.
The Director General/Chief Executive Officer was accompanied by Hajia Rabi M. Daku, DAS; Alh. Ahmed Abdu, DLS; Engr. M. Y. Abba, DAMS; Mr. C. Macebuh, DCWFS; Dr. Mansur Matazu, TA-DG/CEO; Bashar Saad, D-ETS; J. G. Reuben, DFA; Kasim Bello, Protocol; Ado Abdulkadir, LO Aviation Min.; Sarah Itta, PRO; Muntari Y. Ibrahim, GM (PR).