The Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMET) has predicted that 2019 will be another hot year in Nigeria, similar to the climatic condition of 2018 which was hotter than the preceding year. The explanation for this inclement weather is not far-fetched: climate change is to blame. Director-General of NiMET Professor Sani Mashi said at a press conference during the week, "It is very clear that our environment is in a serious challenge of extreme weather events as a result of climate change which is seen as the single most prominent risk. As such, 2018 was found to be one of the four warmest years without an El Nino. [This year] 2019, as an El Nino year, has already begun with pockets of extreme events in form of severe storms currently ravaging Mozambique and parts of Australia."
Also speaking on the harsh weather condition, Mr Bernard Gomez, the World Meteorological Organisation's [WMO] Representative for North, Central and West Africa, explained that climate change had led to an increase in extreme weather conditions at local levels as well as at national and global levels. He said these may become more intense later in the year.
Climate change, defined as a change in the Earth's climatic system and which leads to observed harsh weather patterns, was once considered by many governments to be an abstract phenomenon. Many countries who live in denial of the negative change in weather perceived it as a distant apocalyptic prediction by researchers and scientists who solicit for funds to foster their search for more knowledge. However, the reality of climate change has manifested in many natural devastations from desertification, floods, wild fires, tornadoes and cyclones.
NiMET's prediction for 2019 is very essential for economic planning, especially in the field of agriculture. Nigerian farmers depend largely on rainfall for crop planting. Therefore, NiMET should make its weather reports available to farmers in all parts of the country so that they could engage in their trade from the position of knowledge. Farmers should be alerted at the appropriate time to begin to plant their crops, and the time they should begin to harvest them.
We call on the Ministry of Agriculture and those involved in agricultural research and extension services to provide support for farmers. They should make available to farmers the kinds of crops that would yield favourably during the kind of harsh weather condition which NiMET has predicted in 2019. In many other countries that have shorter rainy seasons, their agricultural scientists have come up with improved seedlings that can withstand harsh weather to yield abundantly. At a time like this year, Nigerian farmers definitely need all the help they could get from experts in the agricultural sector.
Another related issue, and which is also critical to the agricultural sector, is green pasture for cows and other animals that survive on grazing. In the last few years, the issue of pasture for grazing has been elevated from an agricultural challenge to security challenge. Since 2014, thousands of Nigerians in rural areas have been killed in what has now been termed 'herders/farmers' conflict. In a hot year like 2019, there could be less green grass and less water where cattle could graze and drink. The consequence could be that competition between land for grazing and farmland would intensify, especially in the North-Central region. It is regretful that almost six years after the conflict aggravated, government has not devised a potent measure to deal with the situation, either in terms of reducing the movement of cattle from one part of the country to another, or providing functional grazing reserves. We call on government to implement measures that would facilitate a harmonious relationship between farmers and herders in 2019 to ensure that violence and unnecessary deaths are not recorded. NiMET's prediction should be a wake-up call for all those in a position to act in manners that would cushion the effects of the impending negative weather conditions.