Disasters are rather better imagined than being a reality as we hope to spend our days in wholeness/soundness of mind and body with loved ones. But as mush as we would like to abandon disastrous events in the recesses of our mind, we cannot outrightly deny the fact that disasters do happen. And this is why we have to seek ways of managing - or probably preventing - such occurrences. This is what shall form the fulcrum of this discourse as we look at the agencies that are in charge of disaster management in Nigeria, and also shed some light on the problems facing disaster management in the country.
First and foremost, the major agency in charge of disaster or emergency management in Nigeria is the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), with its efforts being complemented in all states - except five - of the Federation by the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). Besides this, NEMA has zonal offices in Kaduna, Plateau, Borno, Rivers, Lagoos and Enugu.
The National Emergency Management Agency was established in 1999 under Act 12 as amended by Act 50 of 1999, and is saddled with the overarching objective of managing disasters in Nigeria. Broadly speaking however, NEMA’s statutory functions also include [but not limited to]:
Formulation of policies that are related to the management of disasters in Nigeria; this is central to the fulfilment of the agency’s overall mandate.
Monitoring/evaluating the state of the nation’s preparedness against the occurrence of disasters, and making moves towards reducing and/or curtailing risks associated with disaster.
- Leading sensitization/awareness campaign against sudden disaster in the country; with the aim of educating the populace on steps to take in the event(s) of sudden disasters.
- Provision of relief materials for persons victimized by disasters. Also, NEMA is to develop joint humanitarian programs/plans [with other stakeholders] to mitigate disaster-related risks.
- Coordinating training and human capacity development programs in order to equip staff members for disaster management tasks.
Other stakeholders involved in the management of disaster in Nigeria include the Nigeria Fire Service, Nigeria Armed Forces, Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and the Red Cross amongst others.
Challenges of disaster management in Nigeria
Disasters in themselves do portend huge challenges that are not always easy to curtail, and these could eventually throw those in charge of managing the situation in a tight and/or helpless state in some instances. In the case of Nigeria however, there are a number of issues that could yet add to the problems arising from catastrophic situations or make recovery efforts grossly ineffective on the whole, and some of these are discussed as follows:
- Lack of coordination among stakeholders: Stakeholders involved in the management of disasters apparently lag in the area of forging good coordination as their mandates do not appear to properly laid out when it comes to managing emergencies.
- Lack of proper evaluation/assessment: Another challenge encountered in the management of disasters in Nigeria is that which hovers around the inability to accurately evaluate disaster situations. This may be due, in part, to the inadequate supply of evaluation tools/equipments. Owing to this, there is a need to invest hugely in equipments that will be valuable in forewarning (about) and managing the situations.
- Misrepresentation of data: More often than not, we have seen authorities and eye-witnesses giving contrasting accounts [especially in the aspect of casualty figures] after disaster struck. This is one major challenge that could hamstring efforts to get adequate relief materials to those affected by disasters.
- Slow response time: Most of the times when disaster breaks out in developed nations, one of the reasons - aside from the deployment of advanced technological equipments - damages are usually limited is due to the proactive nature as well as minimum response time of the agencies overseeing disaster management efforts. However, in the case of Nigeria, it could reach up to hours or even days before aids get to the victims.
- Diversion of relief materials/aids: It is not out of place to see relief materials from humanitarian organizations diverted and sold in the markets, and as such, being use for monetary gains. So, invariably, corruption yet rear its ugly head in this very regard.
NEMA’s Regional Offices
North-Central Office: Direct labour compound, Vom Road, Jos, Plateau State. Phone number: +234092905903
North-East Office: Medical store premises, Baga Road off Auno street, Maiduguri, Borno State. Phone number: +2348039149667
North-West Office: 15, Wurno Road, Unguwan Sarki, Kadunai, Kaduna State. Phone number: +234092905896
South-East Office: 55a, Ezillo Avenue, Independence Layout, Enugu State. Phone number: +234092905781; 08037020447; 08077634188; 08062960563.
South-South Office: 51, Ikwerre Road, Diobu, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
South-West Office: Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way opposite Ikeja Plaza, Lagos State. Phone number: +234092905789
Headquarters: 8, Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Maitama, Abuja.
Phone number: 080022556362