By Miriam Humbe
Director General of the Nigerian Metrological Agency, (NiMet), Prof. Abubakar Mashi has said that Nigeria may be losing millions of pound sterling annually to the outsourcing of weather information to foreign weather service providers by crude oil companies.
Prof. Mashi who made this known when he hosted House of Representatives Committee members on Aviation yesterday in Abuja revealed that according to findings, Shell Petroleum Development Company alone had paid about £79million to the United Kingdom Meteorological Agency for weather information between 2017 and June 2019.
He regretted that the agency has been unable to prosecute the unabated criminal offense against the country, noting that despite laws empowering NiMet to provide weather forecast information to agencies and organizations as at when needed, indications have shown that foreign weather service providers have been exploiting the country and taking revenue that should accrue to the nation.
He said: “Our law says that said we should provide weather information, there is no law that states that another organization should do that, had it been the law was clear about the illegality of sourcing weather information from the third party, it would be easy to prosecute the offenders”.
Prof. Mashi said globally the law does not allow meteorology information to be released by any third party except the meteorological service of the country concede their right to a third party, “but when that is not done but third parties go against the law, its very wrong” he lamented.
“We have been to the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC), and the Content Development Agency, they told us that though the Content Development law is there, that says certain percentage should go to Nigeria.”
“How can we spend billions of Naira to put in facilities when we know we will not be patronized, we have asked them to challenge us and give us the mandate to provide weather information, so that we can deploy the facilities effectively, but if we generate nobody will consume. So there is need to do something about the Legal framework; and further disclosed plans to collaborate with the marine sector to curb ship wreckage on the high sea.
Chairman, House Committee on Aviation, Nnoli Nnaji posited that the committee would ensure they improve allocation to NIMET in the 2020 budget, adding that they would review the laws where necessary to ensure the nation is not short changed.
Nnaji further charged them to be more proactive in providing weather information for farmers to ensure they (farmers) take the necessary precautions.