By Nkechi Okoronkwo
The National Ememrgency Management Agency (NEMA), says it is working towards establishing an Emergency Operation Centre, to boost its preparedness and response to emergency issues in the country.
The Director, Risk Reduction Department of NEMA, Mr Alhassan Nuhu, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Nairobi.
Nuhu said that the centre would have what he called “key watch directors’’ from relevant stakeholder agencies who would be analyzing an emergency in one position, taking strategic decisions and passing them on to operational level commanders.
He said that such a centre would enable NEMA to improve on its response to emergency situations just like Ghana and Uganda.
“We need to establish our own Emergency Operation Centre which is yet to come on board. We need to have a robust emergency Operation Centre so that we can improve our own response.
“We are already talking to UNDP to support us in that regard because they have helped Uganda to set up their own.
Nuhu, who spoke to NAN on the sideline of the 4th Annual AU Symposium on Humanitarian Effectiveness, said that the forum provided a platform sharing ideas and learning among AU member states.
The symposium was organised to harvest input from member states in the ongoing effort to draw up a 10-year action plan for the implementation of a Common Africa Position (CAP) on Humanitarian Effectiveness, a document adopted by African Heads of State in January 2016.
The presentation of the CAP at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey in May 2016, gave impetus to the implementation of the document, thereby making the symposium imperative.
Nuhu told NAN that Nigeria was widely applauded at the symposium for having a strong national institution with “a resource base and capacity to produce and implement plans that will ensure that disasters are prevented, mitigated and effectively responded to’’.
According to him, one of the lessons learnt from the meeting is the need to expand the stakeholder base to include Civil Society Organisations, NGOs as well as the media.
He said that the private sector was already involved, citing the Victims Support Fund (VSF) and the Dangote Presidential Committee, adding that the government had accorded them due recognition and respect for their generous contributions.
He debunked the perception of critics that NEMA was more reactive than proactive, explaining that the five components of disaster management — prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – were implemented simultaneously.
“What people tend to misconstrue as putting more emphasis on response is the reality of the `Contract Expert Model’.
“When a disaster strikes, the most visible activity at that time is the response but prior to that time, the most visible activities are meetings, plans and strategies for prevention, for mitigation.
“At no time do we do only one; we do all five simultaneously; but we do more of one when the urgency for it arises.’’
The director told NAN that NEMA had established a National DRR Platform since 2005 and in addition, developed an action plan as well as infused DRR into school curriculum in five major subjects.
“We have five major subjects we have infused DRR. For example in English Language, when you have Comprehension, we have issues like flood prevention. These are part of the priority actions required,’’ Nuhu explained. (NAN)