Immediate past Director General of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Dr. Anthony Anuforom, is leaving the agency with the satisfaction that his 10 -year tenure as the CEO transformed the agency to a technologically driven agency. Anuforom spoke with selected aviation journalists in Abuja. Vanguard was there. Excerpts :
Well, it was in 2007 that I got appointed as a DG for a first term of five years which was in 2007 to 2012. Of course after the first term, I got reappointed for a second tenure, that is 2012 that would end this year. When I came on board, remember, of course I was actually a director of applied meteorological services in NIMET from inception. Remember we were a department of the ministry, that is the department of meteorological services in the ministry up until 2003 when the Act setting up NIMET was passed into law and then signed by the then president Olusegun Obasanjo. So when I started, having done about five years or so as director, the problems were not strange to me at all. I was part of those that set up the agency from inception, that is, after we metamorphosed from department to parastatal. So the problems were a bit familiar.
What were the problems? One, was the problem of infrastructure and when I say infrastructure I am not talking just about buildings because we are a scientific organization so our house is an operational and a scientific organization. So, we had a problem of infrastructure, that is, instruments and equipment for measurement of weather. And of course I first of all did an assessment because at that time, from 2003 to 2007 I was not the boss, so I went back to the fundamental things. Looking at the NIMET Act, our most fundamental work is to observe weather, record the data and issue weather forecast and predictions for all sectors of the economy. So I had to go back to that fundamental function of observing weather. To observe weather we need our observatories, our synoptic stations. At that time I inherited 36 synoptic stations. So the very first thing I did was assessment of their capacities to do that fundamental job of observing the weather and recording data. When I did the assessment that is in terms of instrument availability, in order words, we measure certain variables.
What are the instruments for measuring them? Are they available in all the 36 stations? If they are available, are they functional? So when I conducted that survey, I found out something that was really shocking. And that is out of the 36 synoptic stations or weather observatories across the country, only four of them scored above 50%, the highest score was 64% and that was very, very worrisome.
So we now set out to address that issue, get the synoptic stations working so that we can measure weather variables. Of course it may interest you to know that in each synoptic station, there are 13 weather variables measured, each one is measured every hour of the day and in some cases every hour of the day at night that is for the 24hours stations. So we got to work, we started to build backs, that make instruments available for weather observation. And so having done that, we now went out to expand the number of stations, today we are leaving behind 54 weather observatories across the country.
We did not only re-enforce them in terms of making instruments available we also re-instrumented them as it were, we also expanded the number. So that is the first thing we did. Two, we had challenges of manpower and personnel. The staffs were generally low, the morale was generally low, people had no self-esteem, I am sorry to say. Because when you come to the aviation parastatals they were looked down upon because their salaries were very poor, and you could see it in their dressing, the type of cars they had for the few that even had cars. So when they start squaring shoulders with their colleagues from other agencies their morale was low. So I now took up the challenge of getting them better salary package. Again that we were able to accomplish.
So today we are enjoying relatively better salary package. That is the NIMET salary package. That is what we are enjoying, of course it is better than what we have in the civil service. Thirdly, to also increase staff morale and confidence, we had to re-train them, so we gave emphasis to training and re-training, with the result that within a short time, we were able to train and re-train many of our officers. Many of these trainings were overseas training.
The factory that manufactured the instruments, having conquered that we also moved on to the issue of more hi-tech equipment because the one I told you about is the synopsis stations are basic instruments for measurement of operational purposes, like weather radar. Radar is sophisticated hi-tech equipment. We commenced, we were able to procure six weather radars although we were able to complete the installation of two-Port Harcourt and Abuja. We were working seriously to complete Yola and Maiduguri before the insurgency disturbed us and the Americans refused to come back for safety reasons.