By Dike Chigbue
Recently, stakeholders in the emergency management sector from African countries converged in Abuja, the nation’s capital with the aim to draw out objectives and a sustainable framework through which countries can respond to emergencies not only for its good but for the collective good of countries in the region. Certainly, the hosting of this event which is first of its kind in the sub region is a clear demonstration and appreciation of how the emergency response has performed significantly in Nigeria. There is no doubt that many governments in Africa have garnered the political will to make disaster risk reduction a priority, this is because disasters remain a potential threat to national development, poverty reduction initiatives and the attainment of a progressive society.
Analysts agreed that the success of the summit is a huge plus for Nigeria as a leader in the African continent. The summit which brought together ministers and experts from African countries to deliberate and contribute to post-2015 framework on disaster risk reduction is indeed timely especially if one considered the huge security challenges and natural disasters such as flooding confronting most African countries.
The increasing occurrence and complexity of natural and human induced disasters which are constantly being exacerbated by climate change and global warming, have made the world a challenging place to live. However, under the NEMA DG, Mohhammed Sani Sidi, it has deployed latest technology to advance the cause of disaster management in Nigeria. The last innovation includes the introduction of the toll free number (0800CALLNEMA) in the case of an emergency where the general public could call free. In fact as one of the participant from Ethiopia Mrs. Alice Sag, said, Nigerian government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have shown that it’s a model in Africa that is worthy to be emulated by other sister agencies and that is why it is significant that this summit is hosted in Nigeria. She said further “ this is because NEMA’s success is not limited to managing challenges in Nigeria alone but also with the international communities, we all witnessed how the agency has rendered various types of assistance and support to mostly African countries, for instance relief materials were provided to victims of explosion in Congo Brazzaville, while The Gambia benefitted from deployment of skilled NEMA emergency officers to support in setting up similar agency in that country. In the same vein, stranded Nigerians during the political crises in Arab countries were successfully evacuated and united with their families”
At the conference, commendations continue to pour in for the management of NEMA, describing it as a model in the region to be emulated, credit must go to the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi, Sidi has shown determination to improve the country’s response to disaster management. Under his leadership, Nigeria has made progress in the implementation of all the key priority of the Hyogo Framework for action 2010 – 2015. It is worthy to note that before his arrival it was as if NEMA never existed but today, NEMA has been able to surpass the expectations of not only Nigerians but the international community which is the reason why this latest edition of the Africa Regional Platform on disaster reduction was held in Nigeria.
However, for federal government this is not a call to relax but a call to rise up further to the occasion, for Nigeria to become not only the head in the West African sub region but to lead in Africa and contend with its counterparts in the western world. As it was suggested at the summit which canvassed deeply for more support for emergency agencies, suggesting that 1percent of the nation’s budget should be set aside for emergency prevention and eradication with the aim to have a robust emergency agency that can cope with the ever increasing cases of disasters that are both natural and manmade. Therefore, this is a call for Federal government to support NEMA, to study carefully the resolutions and suggestions made at the summit with the aim of proffering support for NEMA, to increase funding for them to be able to achieve its objectives without funding challenges.
Dike wrote this piece from Abuja