The Senate Committee on Special duties has said there is no synergy between emergency management agencies in the country.
The agencies include the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs.
Members of the panel on Tuesday took turns to query the Director-General, NEMA, Muhammadu Muhammed, when he appeared before the committee to defend his agency’s 2021 budget.
Degi Biobarakuma, a member of the committee, complained that not all the agencies seem to provide relief for victims in need during emergencies – an act, he said, could help all the agencies achieve their mandate, if curbed.
“NEMA has to be more proactive,” he said. If there is no synergy, the agencies that have a little bit related mandate will not achieve the desired results. The application of funds of the Federal Government will be optimal when there is synergy. There must be a way that the North East Development Commission for example and NEMA and other agencies can work together so that there will be better coordination and optimal application of the resources of government.
“I believe NEMA can begin to think on that Direction and you cannot do it alone. You can identify an environment that is flood-free, prepare temporal satellite because we know that the flood must come. For instance, in September the flood will begin to rise. So not only NEMA but other agencies that have related mandates.”
The DG, in his response, said the agency sometimes “gets carried away” and does all the work without the sister-agencies. He also said the staff of SEMA are sometimes sidelined because of lack of skill and experience.
“Sometimes, we get carried away. Please pardon us. NEMA has realised a long time ago that we need to get states especially to come together in the area of management of disaster. While some states are doing extremely well, others are doing far behind.”
“I will give an example of the recent flooding. We sent committees to all the states. Where in some places you have a huge number of SEMA staff to accompany them to do assessment and come up with the appropriate data, in some states they have only two people in SEMA and nothing in the local government. Even the staff have no idea, knowledge or education. It is something we would talk about but I believe with the assistance of the National Assembly, we will get somewhere.”
The chairperson of the committee, Yusuf Yusuf, urged the agency to reconcile with the ecological office and ensure that they get what is due to them.
He also urged the DG to ensure fair distribution of palliatives and disaster management materials, disaster prevention and decongestion of Internal Displaced Persons camps.
The lawmakers further suggested that a national conference be organised to discuss areas of specialisation for the agencies.
“Also in the area of specialisation, I think the committee will look into this issue of creating a specialisation. Let the North East Development Commission handle the development activities, while NEMA handle things related to IDPs and then Refugees commission handle issues relating to refugees. The committee will discuss with the executive to know how that can be implemented.”
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