By Rotimi Ajayi
Last Thursday, one of the few Nigerian Institutions still alive to its corporate responsibility, called a Press Conference in Abuja. The focus of the Conference was not to idolize the Chief Executive of the Agency or to massage the ego of the Supervising Minister. The focus was to alert Nigerians to very salient and vital warnings that could determine life and death.
The Agency, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has consistently done this type of crucial Press Conference for some years now to keep Nigerians abreast of the weather situation year-in, year-out. The profile for 2012 was presented by its Director General, Dr Anthony Anuforom.
The content of the 2012 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction and 2011 Climate Review for Nigeria are such that President Goodluck Jonathan must take very serious as a key component of his Transformation Agenda.
Most instructive of the prediction made by NIMET is the social-economic implications in relations to cost and standard of living of Nigerians.
Addressing a pack of media practitioners, Dr Anuforom, who looked very elated possibly at the achievement of his Agency, described the Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) as a “vital weather advisory and early warning tool for planners, decision-makers and operators of the various rainfall-sensitive socio-economic sectors as it enhances preparedness against climate risks and associated hazards.”
The SRP says, “overall, there is likely to be normal onset of rains in 2012 in most parts of the country, Onset dates between late February (in the Southernmost part of the country) and last week of June (in the northernmost part of the country) are predicted. A near normal annual rainfall amount is predicted varying from 300 to 1100mm in the northern half of the country and from 1200 to 2700mm in the South”
Now what does this translate to? Every study on the impacts of climate change in Nigeria has been very damning about what could result negatively on Nigerians unless Governments take measures to enhance adaptation of the people to climate change.
These studies have also always underscored the dangers of extreme weather events in unpredictability in the timing and quantity of rainfall, heat waves, expansive drought and desert encroachment among others. These would have effects on available living resources such as food, water and shelter with extreme case being impact on health.
Now that NIMET has come up with the weather profile of 2012, what socio-economic bearing does it hold on Nigerians? The most crucial effect that rains bring on Nigerians is on Agriculture. Nigerian Agricultural yields depend largely on the charity or otherwise of the skies. So abnormal rainfall or sub-normal ones would drastically have polar effects on how much food is available in the country and the cost at which such will be available.
According to NIMET SRP, normal rain pattern in Nigeria in 2012 will bring about “normal growing season.” Indeed, the SRP says, “the predicted ‘normal growing season’ in 2012 is expected to result in good agricultural yields, with little chance of Agricultural drought across the country.”
In other words if every other things within human control can be taken care of, Nigeria should expect very good agricultural yield this year. As NIMET predicted, “farmers are advised to source and undertake early planting of improved high-yielding varieties of seeds, cuttings and seedlings for all crops commonly grown in the country.”
Here is where the Federal Government through relevant key ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources, Science and Technology and Power as well as States have a big role to play in ensuring that Nigeria does not miss the opportunity in the 2012 weather charity.
The type of Agricultural inputs required to maximise advantage of the good rainfall should be made available stress-free to farmers. The Ministry of Environment should hit the roads creating awareness to Nigerians on the other side of the good rainfall which will create erosion and floods as has been equally predicted.