NEMA Consultative Meeting: Okowa Urge Nigerians To Focus On Disaster Reduction

By Ibrahim-Gwamna Mshelizza

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has tasked Nigerians on the need to look critically at disaster reductions in the country.

The governor, represented by his Deputy, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, gave the charge while declaring open a two day National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Consultative Meeting with Executive Secretaries and Heads of States Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) in Asaba.

The governor noted that the theme of the meeting "Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria: Consolidating the Gains of Working Together" was most appropriate.

He said that the burden that comes with disaster management was usually huge but working together creates higher quality outcomes that were more efficient, thoughtful and effective.

“In an inter-coordinated world, disaster in one region or country could seriously impact many other regions and countries. NEMA has the challenging task of driving any agenda in disaster management but with such a huge burden, it is proper that this type of meeting is held for cross fertilisation of ideas”.

“I enjoin this gathering to continue to look critically at disaster reduction, while each state and region may have specific interventions to make learning from each other and about world best practices for our immense benefit”, he said.

While the governor Commended NEMA for the initiative in putting together the meeting and also for chosen the state, he said that the meeting no doubt would afford participants opportunity to brainstorm on the need for more awareness on natural and human-induced environmental disasters in the country.

In his remarks, the Director-General, NEMA, Mr Muhammed Sani said that the meeting has become necessary to build a stronger coordination among all stakeholders in the agency to effectively address the various disaster challenges in the country.

He noted that in the recent past the country has been challenged by both human and natural induced disasters such as annual floods, fire outbreak, building collapse, land use conflicts, ethno-religious crises and extremist insurgency.

“These have posed serious humanitarian challenges in form of displacement of persons, disruption in means of livelihood and widespread and quite often irreversible environmental damage. To consolidate on actions taking by the Agency in coordinating disaster management stakeholders, the 2016 edition of this consultative meeting is mainly focusing on fostering sustainable collaboration and mutual support between NEMA and SEMAs”.

According to him, “Coordination allows all personnel and agencies involved in emergency management to work together for enhanced service delivery”, Sani said.

He said that the meeting would consider the recent trends of disaster management across the country and update SEMAs on recent changes in NEMA’s policies and structure in order to enhance their disaster management structure.

Mrs Oyebanji Adeola, Deputy Director, SEMA, Osun State, said the state has been proactive in disaster management which were fire outbreak and windstorms, adding that though there was a great burden managing disasters but with today’s meeting she has a better understanding that with collaborations, managing disasters becomes easier.

Also Mr. Paul Tino, Secretary, SEMA, Taraba State, said the state has continued to experience emergency situations and the challenges on managing the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to insurgency, noting that with today’s consultative meeting, the state SEMA was in a better position to carry out its responsibilities through collaborations among all stakeholders for proper coordination and resources management to reduce disaster.

Some of the participants who spoke in an interview with our correspondent lauded NEMA’s initiative for the meeting and said they had benefited immensely and would replicate ideas in their states.