The outgoing Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi has said that during six-year tenure, the agency established eight operational offices and facilitated creations of 21 additional State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) in collaboration with state governments.
Sani-sidi made the disclosure in his valedictory speech at the handing over ceremony at the NEMA corporate headquarters in Abuja.
He said: “In order to ensure efficiency in response, we established eight new Operations Offices of NEMA in Adamawa, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kano, Niger and Sokoto States to complement activities of the existing Zonal Offices in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. This led to effective risk management at the grassroots and guaranteed timely humanitarian response.This, according to him led to effective risk management at the grassroots and guaranteed timely humanitarian response.”
Speaking further on his achievements, Alhaji Sani Sidi said his administration nurtured and sustained advocacy and partnership with all State Governments and the FCT, with a view to promote establishment and strengthening of State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) with requisite legal backing, manpower and funding.
Said he: “Over the years, we have built on the successes of our predecessors who led the agency at inception. In line with global best practice, we made deliberate efforts to shift from disaster response to mitigation and risk reduction towards effective disaster management, in all ramifications within and outside the shores of this country”.
He said that as a coordinating agency in disaster management, NEMA worked closely with local and international partners in disaster mitigation and response, which no doubt facilitated effective partnership and cooperation among critical stakeholders at both vertical and horizontal levels.
“These partnerships provided the opportunities for continual human capacity improvement, cross fertilization of ideas, visible exposure and cooperation among various stakeholders, which led to the emergence of NEMA as a key emergency management platform in sub-Sahara Africa, as well as active collaboration with the United Nations Systems and International development partners for enhanced emergency preparedness, response and mitigation”, he said.
In order to further reduce response, Sani-Sidi said NEMA under his watch established Emergency Response Ambulance Bays (ERABs) equipped with Mobile Intensive Care Unit ambulances and Incidence Response vans at strategic locations within and around Abuja city on pilot basis, stressing that plans are underway to extend the services to other major towns and strategic locations nationwide.
“We established a functional Call Centre for 24-hour reception, processing and dissemination of distress call from members of the public, for prompt emergency response. We also established a state of the art Geographic Information (GIS) laboratory for satellite image interpretation, disaster risk mapping and Early Warning information dissemination”.
“We also acquired heavy-duty equipments for emergency response such as excavators, air ambulance and rescue helicopter. I make proud to say that the NEMA Air Ambulance has the capacity to undertake medical evacuation across Nigeria and can fly non-stop to any European and Middle Eastern capital. The Agency has signed memorandum of understanding with major national and foreign hospitals for the reception of medical emergencies”.
He noted that in line with international best practices, NEMA has established a full-fledged Department of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and has trained thousands of Emergency Volunteers at ward levels, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and high level Executive Volunteers.
“Discussions had reached advanced stage with the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria (SOFPON) to engage 1500 medical doctors and specialists as volunteers across the country”, he said.
According to him, NEMA has successfully infused Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) into Basic and Post Basic education Curriculum in Nigeria, noting that in collaboration with Six Federal Universities, the Agency offers Post-Graduate Course on Disaster Management and Development Studies.
“We established Seismological Stations at Ebonyi State University, Abakalaki and Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State and concluded the Vulnerability Capacity Analysis (VCA) study of six States and FCT in Nigeria”, he said.
He further revealed that in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, NEMA has developed nine comprehensive plans to streamline Emergency Response Operations during disasters. These plans include: The National Response Plan, The Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan, The National Disaster Management Framework, The National Contingency Plan, National Contingency Plan on Infrastructural Resuscitation,
“We have also ensured effective contingency prepositioning of relief items and sustained rapid humanitarian response to ongoing emergencies across Nigeria, especially during the unprecedented floods of 2012 and ongoing insurgency in the North East, during which the Agency provided consistent leadership in Camp Management and Coordination of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps”.
He revealed that with change in humanitarian dashboard, NEMA has sustained humanitarian support to the victims of the ongoing insurgency in the Northeast and the communal crises in several states of the country, apart from the establishment of the Vulnerable Group Care Unit (VGCU) to provide support to women, children, the sick and the elderly during emergencies.
The Agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Borno State Government; while we provide raw food, the state government provides condiments for the feeding of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
“Also in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), we have established and inaugurated the Humanitarian Co-ordination Forum for the review of current humanitarian concerns and planning appropriate mechanism for interventions.
“On international operations, NEMA has been actively involved and successfully repatriated thousands of stranded Nigerians from Libya, Mali, Gabon, Saudi Arabia, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South-Africa.
Apart from provision of humanitarian assistance to crisis-hit countries like Kenya, Guinea, South-Sudan, Saharawi Arab Republic, Congo and Central Africa Republic, in collaboration with Foreign Affairs, NEMA delivered relief assistance to our neighbours including Niger, Mali and the Gambia. We also signed an MOU towards assisting The Gambia in the establishment of its National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA).”
He commended the staff of the agency for standing by him through thick and thin, stressing that all these modest achievements were possible simply because everyone played a role.
The Director Finance and Account of the Agency, Mr. Hakeem Akinbola commended the outgoing NEMA boss for his selfless service to the nation apart from his well-tailored welfare service to the staff of the agency.
Also at the occasion, the Executive Secretary Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (Retired) who presented a plaque to Sani-Sidi on behalf of several critical stakeholders commended his doggedness, advocacy and efforts in ensuring inter-agency collaborations apart from making NEMA a cynosure of all eyes.