Disaster management is everyone’s business likewise, agencies responsible for responding to untoward development should be seeing in discharging their mandates efficiently and effectively to public satisfaction.
The issue of emergency management in Nigeria as lately being saddled by the National Emergency Management agency (NEMA) with the supports of other response agencies like Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, the Police, fire Service, Red Cross and even the military.
We are living witnesses to the several natural and man-made disasters that have bedevilled our nation and the sacrifice of some our nationals including corps members that were victims of post-election crises who were actively serving their fatherland.
In view of this some distortion of facts could be mischievously bandied for various reasons. Though more is expected of every institution of government in its responsibilities but we should not ignore notable achievement and commitment of such institutions and individuals who make positive development to our growth.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is a coordinating agency that has the mandate to partner with respective stakeholders, gather resources towards effective and efficient disaster management. In such partnership first responders are mobilised to be on ground at every scene of disaster whenever it occurs.
Despite numerous challenges and obstacles of having only seven zonal offices in Nigeria, the impact of NEMA is widely felt especially as it collaborates effectively with its relevant stakeholders in terms of disaster management locally and internationally. The agency’s prompt intervention to natural and manmade disasters is unquestionable; the tradition ofswift response has always been the same since the change of baton from AVM Mohammed Audu-Bida (rtd) to the incumbent Director General Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi who barely spends first year in office.
For instance since October 2010 to date, NEMA has tried to grapple with the individuals’ yearning misconception of the agency as first responders to disaster, expecting to be at every disaster scene whenever such occurred, with this, the agency has developed unyielding quest to train its volunteers, stakeholders as well as staffs and equipping them with modern equipment for prompt intervention.
NEMA’s proactive approach towards disasters has always been awesome especially during Bomb blasts, floods, ethno-religious crises, plane, automobile crashes and collapse of buildings, outbreak of epidemics, providing relief materials to victims of disaster. So far, under the auspices of the agency more than 5000 Nigerians were safely evacuated from troubled torn countries during the Middle-East political crises in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and so on.
During the recent deadly bombings of the Nigerian Police Headquarters (Louis Edet House) and the UN House in Abuja as well as many attacks in some major parts of the Northern Nigeria, NEMA’s officials were spotted spearheading the rescue operations combing every nook and cranny with anti-bomb and anti-terrorism experts to find out trapped victims.
NEMA’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) led by professional Search and Rescue officers were the first to arrive at the scene of a Beechcraft plane with registration number N364UZ on a test run after undergoing maintenance at Dornier Aviation Nigeria Limited (DANA) in Kaduna which crashed few kilometers at Barrakallahu in Kaduna. The appearance of the Director General too at the scene of the accident was baffling to said the list. The same scenario was replicated in a mountainous area of Osun state where an helicopter crashed in a difficult terrain. Without an office in nearby states, NEMA rescue team were drafted from Lagos and Abuja to collaborate with Osun State Emergency Management Agency (OSEMA). It took the combine efforts of other response agencies to locate the crashed helicopter on a hill more than 10,000 feet above the sea-level.
It will be recalled, the Political Crisis in April that engulfed some major parts of the country was one of worst hit disaster of recent times and it has poses enormous challenges to the agency, despite the vulnerability of handling such complex issues, the agency’s officials on the directives of the Director General embarked on massive rescue mission with security agents, others who are assigned for an on-the-spot assessment of damages recorded during the crisis has to take the risk of conducting their assignment without any security backup.
Relief materials worth millions of Naira has been provided to the victims of the crisis at the Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, more aids are reaching the victims of the crisis who are still in IDP camps in different locations; Habitually , the DG has relentlessly on routine basis visiting various camps to assess on the welfare of the displaced.
Alhaji Sani-Sidi’s service to humanity has always been glaring. The DG who was on holy land, Saudi Arabia during Ramadan to perform the lesser hajj sacrificed his spiritual seclusion and took the next available flight back home to coordinate the rescue efforts and relief interventions as a result of the devastating flooding ravaging many communities in the city of Ibadan which claimed lives and loss of properties.
Recently, at the 3rd Joint Management Meeting in Yola, Adamawa state, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi engaged the Agency’s top Management, Zonal Coordinators and other respective Stakeholders to a marathon meeting to brainstorm on how to curtail the enormous challenges that has been grappling the agency. At the meeting, the Director General reiterated the need for an efficient response system on assessment through a rapid response report within 24 hours.
NEMA under the supervision of the Director General, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi, backed by an avalanche guidance of the management staff, meticulous nature of the staffs, harnessed by an enthusiastic image maker has performed marvellously in coordinating resources towards efficient and effective disaster prevention, preparation, mitigation and response in Nigeria.
If only we all collaborate in disaster management, the positive development could even be better.