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Published On: Wed, Oct 8th, 2014

National awards: Rewarding NEMA, the DG for outstanding achievement

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nema-logoBy Manzo Ezekiel

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was recently presented with the 2014 National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) for its impressive achievements in the area of timely responses to emergency situations in Nigeria.

Similarly, in recognition of the exemplary leadership responsible for the achievement by the Agency and successes made in several other special national assignments, the Director General NEMA Muhammad Sani Sidi has also been conferred with the prestigious national honour of Officer of the Order of Federal Republic (OFR).

The two awards were approved by the President Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. The national honour award was personally conferred on the DG of NEMA by the President at the national ceremony held in the International Conference Centre Abuja, with many high dignitaries including the other deserving recipients.

On the recent National Productivity Order of Merit award to the Agency, the President was represented the award through the Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, as part of this year’s National Productive Day Celebration organized by the National Productivity Centre.

NEMA received the award along with 16 distinguished individuals and two other government organizations having met the criteria and a rigorous screening by a high profile award panel and found worthy of the special recognition. At the event, individual awardees include the current Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka, and the immediate past Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Bukar Goni Aji and labour activist and top official of the Nigerian Labour Congress Comrade Issa Aremu.

The decoration of NEMA’s Director-General with the National Honour is well deserving of him for the much he has given to the services of humanity and the nation in bringing succour to the distressed, promoting disaster resilience and engendering the culture of safety. His landmark achievements are even acknowledged abroad, as he has presented my international papers on disaster management at conferences organized by the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS.

The President congratulated the Awardees for their inspirational work and commitment to excellence and reminded them that “this ward places greater obligation on you to give your best to your country. This Administration needs men and women like you to help build a virile and economically developed nation.”

The National Productivity Centre, in an earlier letter of nomination for the award to NEMA, said the Agency was selected after a rigorous process and found worthy of the honor. It said the Agency has been very visible and its impacts effectively felt in crisis situations such as incidences of building collapse, air crash, market fires and flood, amongst several others across the country.

The Agency’s prompt and continuing intervention in the present humanitarian challenges arising from insurgency in the North East States of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have seen the delivery of succour to more than four million Nigerians that are in dire need of supports.

The award to NEMA has come as an encouragement to the agency whose mandate is primarily focused on disaster management and the staff whose duties are mostly hazardous by nature in the effort to promote sustainability of life in a safe and resilient environment. Thus, the recognition was timely.

 Reacting to the Productivity award, the Director General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi said “Today’s conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award on NEMA is recognition of our humble contribution to the development of our dear country. It is indeed a call for more dedication towards the national call to service in line with the National Transformation Agenda of the Federal Government.”

 He expressed gratitude to God Almighty and thanked Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan GCFR, the Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo GCON and the Governing Council of NEMA for their unflinching support and cooperation to the management and staff of the Agency.

 Sani Sidi said it was impressive that an important institution like the National Productivity Center has taken keen interest in the activities and performances of Agencies of Government and the private sector and rewards them to propel them to greater heights.

 He dedicated the award “To our teeming stakeholders, too numerous to mention, for supporting us in the onerous task of disaster management in Nigeria.

 He also appreciated the President for the recognition accorded him with the decoration of the national honours, assuring of his greater commitment to service of the nation. It could recall that at a point, he had to abandon of Hajj in Saudi Arabai and return home to coordinate response to a flood disaster, realizing that service to humanity is also a service to the creator.

Sani Sidi said he will sustain the progress made in the improvement of disaster management in Nigeria. In doing so, he will continue to build synergy among the stakeholders, sustain human capacity development and facilitate the necessary tools for efficient and effective management of disasters. Attention, according to him would be given to the promotion of disaster risk reduction, awareness creation and effective coordination of resources required for dealing with emergency situations.

 As the apex agency of the Federal Government tasked with the responsibilities on the management of disasters in all ramifications, NEMA has continued to rally the cooperation of the relevant response organizations and harness necessary resources for efficient and effective disaster management in the country. By so doing, the agency ensures the active participation and responsibilities on the parts of the organizations in the roles expected of them under specific situations. It frequently organizes simulations to enable them identify and practice these roles under different disaster scenarios.

One of the significant global innovations which NEMA has successfully entrenched in Nigeria is the adoption of the new international best practices through emphasis on disaster risk reduction instead of the pre-occupation with disaster response. Under this new approach, emphasis is given to prediction through scientific and practical analysis of hazards to build community resilience against anticipated disaster.

 To underscore the imperatives of promoting disaster risk reduction, the agency went on to create a full- fledged department dedicated to it for proper coordination of the related activities. The new department, together with that of planning, research and forecasting coordinate and monitor the activities of the research centres facilitated by NEMA which are presently offering post graduate programmes in disaster risk reduction and development studies in six Federal Universities, namely Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, University of Maiduguri, University of Ibadan, University of Port Harcourt, Federal University of Technology Minna and University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Volunteerism in disaster management has also continued to gain momentum as spirited Nigerians willing to contribute, on part-time basis, to disaster management are given the opportunity to do so. NEMA trains the volunteers that are made up of serving youth corps members under the Emergency Management Vanguard based on the Memorandum of Understanding with the National Youth Service Corp; Grassroots Emergency Volunteers are trained at local community level in partnership with local government councils while the executive volunteers that are professionals drawn from various fields of endeavours. The agency has trained at least 200 volunteers each in more almost all local government areas in Nigeria.

 The agency has also updated and facilitated a number of policy documents for adoption and activation under identified disaster scenarios. The simple but detailed content of these documents provide the framework for the roles and modalities in the activation of the various stakeholders to deal with identified situations.

These include the National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF), National Contingency Plan for Nigeria (NCP), Draft Guidelines for the use of Military Personnel & Assets during   emergencies, Lake Nyos Disaster Response Manual, National Emergency Management Agency Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), National Contingency Plan on Infrastructural Resuscitation (NCPIR).

Also, working together with the stakeholders, has developed the development of the Joint Humanitarian Action Plan for Nigeria (2013-2015), National Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Plan, Development of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for response to vulnerable groups in emergency/disaster situations. In December 2013, the draft National Pandemic Response Plans which NEMA facilitated its development by the stakeholders in collaboration with the United States AFRICOM was officially presented to the Federal Government through the minister of health and Foreign Affairs.

In line with the present realities, the Agency has rallied the input the stakeholders in the amendment of Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan (SAREEP) to include terrorism as an emerging disaster in Nigeria. It has also entered into a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and National Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency (NESREA) in the development, implementation and organization of projects and programmes targeted at sensitizing Nigerian citizenry on environmental and other natural and human – induced hazards  NEMA has procured special equipment for search and rescue in complex situations. These include the special search cameras, life detectors, excavators; Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) heights rescue apparatus and Response Intervention vehicles (RIVs) among others. The emergency medical evacuation unit of the agency is now fully operational just as the Emergency Response Ambulance Bay (ERABs) pilot scheme with more than three stations in Abuja are already providing basic humanitarian services at various strategic locations.

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