“If sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.” -Norman R. Augustine, an aeronautical engineer.
Until recently when officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) came to the orientation camp of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Abuja to sensitize corps members on how they could perform some roles in minimizing the risks associated with disasters and emergency situations that we realise that the agency’s scope of responsibility is wide.
While NEMA is very popular in relief distribution, it doesn’t rely on its staff alone but it achieves success by collaborating with other stakeholders and security agencies, including volunteer groups.
Going by its mandates, it is responsible for formulating policy on all activities relating to the disaster management in Nigeria and co-ordinates the plans and programmes for efficient and effective response to disasters at national level. It also monitors the state of preparedness of all organization or agencies which may contribute to disaster management in Nigeria.
Some areas that are technical in its assignments are the mandates to collate data from relevant agencies, so as to enhance forecasting, planning and field operation of disaster management and to educate and inform the public on disaster prevention and control measures.
In case of any national disaster, it coordinates and facilitates the provision of necessary resources for Search and Rescue and other forms of disaster curtailment activities in response to distress calls and distribution of emergency relief material to victims of natural or other disasters and assists in the rehabilitation of the victims.
The area I find more interesting and where everyone can support the agency’s mandate in disaster reductions is when the Director General of the agency, Alhaji Muhammad Sani-Sidi told corps members that apart from collaboration with other agencies in achieving desired results, NEMA coordinates the activities of all voluntary organizations engaged in emergency relief operations in any part of the country.
He said that special volunteer groups have been established to enable Nigerians from the grassroots to national level to contribute in creating public awareness as well as assist in disaster curtailment once it occurs in any community before the arrival of first responders.
The Director General said most of the success recorded in various interventions in disaster reduction came from efficient and effective networking of NEMA with first responders like Fire Service, Police, Civil Defence Corps, and Federal Road Safety, the military and volunteer groups like the NYSC Youth Vanguards in Emergency Management.
As a corps member who is interested in making contribution to the country in disaster management, I was excited when I was deployed to NEMA Headquarters for my youth service and gladly posted to Public Relations Unit where members of staff are engaged in various activities every day.
So far, one could appreciate the success of the agency in providing relief materials to victims of disasters including floods, communal clashes, windstorms, bomb blast, and road accidents among others. Some of the corps members in the Youth Vanguard Group participated actively in the reception of distressed Nigerians that were evacuated from some troubled foreign countries in the Middle-East and enjoyed some of the regular capacity building programs and seminars for stakeholders and the general public in creating awareness on disaster risk reduction strategies. The agency has gone further in its collaboration by endorsing six Federal Universities to offer courses in disaster management.
While one is glad to serve in an humanitarian agency like NEMA, we pray that we would not witness disaster that could overwhelm the capacity of the agency like earthquake and Tsunamis.
NYSC Member at
National Emergency Management Agency