Revisiting Stakeholders’ Collaboration in Disaster Management,By Ola Lookman

nema-dgThere are many institutions in Nigeria that jointly manage disaster occurrences in the country. While the National Management Agency (NEMA) is coordinating bodies for disaster management, other stakeholders are always on the ground to address the challenges.
Some of the institutions include Civil Defence , Fire Service, Road Safety and volunteer groups like the Red Cross. Meanwhile other powerful agencies are actually involved in tackling any action that could led to injury and loss of lives. Such bodies are authorise to carry arms. They are the Police, Army, Navy and Air Force.
While it is the responsible of the police to tackle internal conflicts and crises, the military are to protect the territorial integrity of the state and from external aggression.
It is interesting to note that there have been efficient and effective collaboration among the response agencies, especially in managing some challenging emergencies in the country. While the military, police and other security agencies jointly protect the from marauders and militants. The National Management Agencies and Red Cross remain actively involved addressing the needs of victims of disasters.
The seeming missing link in the joint operation of response agencies is the alleged distrust between the civilian residents and the security personnel who are there to protect them.
Recently the National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki call for better cooperation and understanding between Civilians and security personnel as the nation wages war against terrorism in some parts of the country. The call came at the time when some are expressing the feat that there more troops deployed by the government as an answer to the increasing security challenges posed by terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers and other anti-social elements making life unbearable for law-abiding .
At a recent National Civil-Military Dialogue in Abuja, participants have observed that the past decade has witnessed multiple forms of unrest —from armed robbery, kidnapping, electoral, communal to ethno-religious violence as the country is battling with insurgency and terrorism.
From the outset, it is necessary to say that the current security challenges are not peculiar to Nigeria but it is a global phenomenon which is being witnessed in various countries where the military have to protect the state from sophisticated terrorists. Some countries have witnessed lawlessness at its peak where vagabonds, masquerading as freedom fighters attempted or succeeded in taking over . The changing role of the military in fighting terrorist groups, like the Nigeria’s Boko Haram, has brought our soldiers closer to communities and the people who reside in them in a way that has been unexpected. This, definitely creates the anxiety and tensions as both groups (civilian and military) chart a new way to accommodate each other.
There is nothing wrong if security is strengthened by deployment of troops to assist civilian authority to check civil disobedience when the police can no longer cope. But the question we must ask is: are the police ready to cope with the current challenges when their officers (including DPOs) are ambushed and killed arbitrary, when their formations have been destroyed with explosive devises and when they themselves are excessively overwhelmed to even protect their structures rather than the innocent ? A logical solution, which is in existence, is efficient delivery of the Joint (JTF) which has membership from all relevant security agencies to tackle squarely the high level of insecurity in the country.
The setting up of the JTF is in the realisation that policing the domestic arena is not the duty of the military, whose training is directed against external enemies of the state. However, we must realise that the military’s participation in joint activities with other para-military outfits to confront the tasking new Millennium security challenges are for strengthening efforts to protect our people from devilish and wicked marauders.
It is in view some avoidable frictions between the soldiers and the civilian populace that I believe Dasuki sought for better understanding and collaboration between the two groups. According to him: “the military can provide desirable assistance to civilians wherever they operate, while the civilian populace can reciprocate this in many other ways.”
Civilians’ vigilance and provision of information enhance the efficiency of the security agencies in the fight against insurgents, terrorists and all other forms of criminality. It is gladden to note that presently local indigenes, youths and vigilantes are actively providing the support through formation of specialised community-based groups. Such groups like the Civilian JTF recently apprehended top Boko Haram members and handed them to the security. Prominent personalities including traditional rulers are now coming openly to disclaim and condemn activities of the insurgents. There is notable reduction of terrorists’ attacks which in the past were weekly occurrences, especially on the weekends, even outside the prone areas of the North-East.
While we must urge other security outfits to brace up to the new challenges of policing and protection of lives and property, as while as calling on NEMA to timely provide relief materials to victims, the military’s intervention in the war against terrorism should be sustained till normalcy returns to the enclaves. The civilians themselves and the media should be security consciousness and alert relevant security agencies of suspicious movements, behaviours and objects that could pose security threat to our national integrity.
As a Nigerian, we should establish and sustain our supports and with the response agencies, especially NEMA and police and the military presence as a necessity to protect our people in dangerous zones, pending when those terrorists with their well-armed lethal armaments and sophisticated gadgets are completely uprooted and eliminated from our national live.
Ola Lookman
Member Youth Against Disaster Initiative

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