A press release by Yushau Shuaib,head of public relations of the agency said the Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi made the disclosure in his office at the weekend while receiving the communique of the 2012 Annual Media Retreat of Journalists and Information Officers on Disaster and Emergency Management in Nigeria.
He said: “All Search and Rescue Officers of the NEMA and that of other response agencies as well as trained emergency volunteers throughout the federation have been put on alert in case of any untoward development between the Xmas period and the New Year. The activation of Search and Rescue officers to be on full alert has been the tradition of the agency in its collaborative efforts with other agencies and volunteers in responding to distress situation.”
The NEMA boss also lamented the inability of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to provide the country with a 3-digit National Emergency call line as obtained in other jurisdictions. He said “We are waiting for NCC to work out the emergency toll free number as soon as possible to help us on disaster management.”
Sani-Sidi also noted that most states have lukewarm attitude to the subject of emergency management and combating disasters by not complying with legal mandates to establish their state emergency management agencies (SEMAs). He added that in the case of those that have established, most of them are yet to become functional because they are not adequately funded.
He tasked journalists to take governors and local government chairmen to task on the need to establish functional emergency management bodies. He stated that “Every Nigerian now look forward to NEMA to respond to emergencies and combat disasters whereas, only situations beyond the coping capabilities of State and Local Emergency outfits that supports and assistance could be referred to NEMA as the national body.”
He also stated that disaster management will soon be included in both primary and secondary school curricula in the country as a result of efforts of his agency. He explained further that students have graduated from the six post graduate departments that NEMA funded in the six geo-political zones across the country.
On the 15-point communique, the NEMA boss promised to implement most of the recommendations especially those pertaining to creation of information centres at emergency scenes to create synergy in dissemination of information and reportage during emergencies. He also promised to improve partnership with the media on dedicated programmes and columns in electronic, print and even online media.