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PUBLIC OWNERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP IN EMERGENCY AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN NIGERIA: A PAPER PRESENTED BY MUHAMMAD SANI SIDI DIRECTOR-GENERAL, NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (NEMA), NIGERIA AT THE 68TH UNGA SPECIAL EVENT ON HUMANITARIAN PARTNERSHIP IN AFRICA HELD ON 25TH SEPTEMBER, 2013 AT THE UNITED NATIONS BUILDING NEW YORK. INTRODUCTION. Disasters are increasing both in frequency and intensity the world over due to rapid population growth, intensive exploitation resources, growing culture of consumerism, land use conflict, overexploitation of resources and the challenges of climate change associated hazards. Between 1980 and 2011, disasters caused more than 2.5 million deaths and USD2.5 trillion in economic damages across the globe according to World Bank report, 2012 ( Commenting on the impact of climate change on disasters, the SRSG for DRR, Margareta Wahlström, said in a Press release in Geneva (UNISDR: 2011/38, 18 November, 2011) that, “Climate science is telling us very clearly that investing in practical measures which build the resilience of nations and communities is the only way to prepare for the intensification of droughts, floods, cyclones, heat waves, forest fires and other natural hazards which will impact heavily in parts of the world with the lowest carbon emissions and least responsibility for climate change’’. 2.


Nigeria is located on one of the most stable continents of the world, the African ancient shield which is less prone to hazards of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis among several others, thanks to the mercy of plate tectonics and continental evolution. Unfortunately, the country has its own fare share of deadly human and nature induced hazards and emergencies which include the following. i. Floods: The characteristic torrential tropical rainfall experienced annually across Nigeria, is always associated with floods which result into loss of lives, the destruction of properties, infrastructure, shelters and farmlands among others. It has remained a paradox, that even the Sahelian States of Northern Nigeria, perpetually vulnerable drought and desertification are not safe from these annual devastating floods.

ii. Drought and Desertification: While the 1972-73 droughts that affected the entire Sahel Zone of West Africa has remained the most devastating in Nigeria’s recent history, northern most States of the country have continued to experience droughts which normally translate to food shortage and poor nutrition especially among women and infants. Biodiversity loss and the depletion of genetic pool for both flora and fauna are two major consequences of drought and desertification threatening the entire Sahel region of West Africa. iii. Ocean Surge and Marine erosion: The extensive coastline of Nigeria has remained vulnerable to marine erosion and surge of tidal waters leading to the destruction of properties, means of livelihood among coastal communities and loss of lives. Several parts of Lagos, one of the world’s mega-cities and Nigeria’s financial capital are under the threats of inundation by tidal surge of the Atlantic Ocean. iv. Gully erosion: The prevalence of gully erosion especially in South Eastern States of Nigeria, a zone characterized with high population density and fragile sedimentary soil geology has constituted a major risk for several communities. v. Landuse Conflict: This is one of the foremost emerging sources of recurring disaster in Nigeria which must be urgently curtailed through sustainable and prudent management of land resources. Conflicts over dwindling land and water resources between farmers and pastoralists; two hitherto complementary occupation groups, is reaching an alarming proportion due to the attendant loss of lives and the destruction of livelihoods. vi. Ethno Religious conflicts: While the Nigerian constitution guarantees the free movement and settlement of citizens in any part of the country, ethnic and religious conflicts in the country have lead to heavy losses of lives, the destruction of properties and the mass displacement persons. vii. Disasters associated with economic growth and urbanization. There are several other challenges associated to modern day technology and prevailing levels of development especially in our urban centers which have aggravated the vulnerability of the populace. Nigeria has the largest concentration of urban centers in the African continent with all the characters of modern day urbanism including poverty, unemployment, urban violence, HIV/AIDS and pandemic outbreaks in high population concentration areas among others.



The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), established in 1999 by act 12 as amended by act 50 is vested with statutory mandate of coordinating emergency preparedness, response and mitigation in Nigeria. The NEMA act also made a provision for the establishment of State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) in line with the federal administrative structure of Nigeria. Presently thirty one out of the thirty six state of Nigeria have established SEMAs with requisite legal backing. NEMA gives direction to the activities of private and public institutions including the military, paramilitary, NGOs and international organisations in emergency preparedness and humanitarian intervention in times of disaster. Currently NEMA has six Zonal Offices located in the six geopolitical zones of the country and an Operations Centre in Abuja and Gombe apart from its National Headquarters. 4.


NEMA has developed plans procedures systems and guidelines for the effective coordination of disaster preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery. Such plans include the National Disaster Response Plan (NDRP), the Search and Rescue and Epidemic Evacuation Plan for Nigeria, the National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Draft Guideline and Procedures for the use of military assets and personnel during emergencies, the National Disaster Management Framework (NDMF) and the National Contingency Plan for Nigeria. Other plans include the National Contingency Plan on Infrastructural Resuscitation, the National Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Plan and the Lake Nyos Disaster Response Manual. Having recognized the importance of citizen’s participation in building resilient communities in Nigeria, NEMA has made bold attempts at taking awareness on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) to the grassroots through its Grassroots and Executive Volunteer training schemes. The Agency, in partnership with the National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC) is working out a curriculum on DRR to be incorporated into the course outline of primary and post primary education in Nigeria. Presently six Federal Universities are offering post graduate courses on Emergency Management and Development Studies in collaboration with the Agency. NEMA also partners with the Administrative Staff College (ASCON), the Centre for Management Development (CMD), and

Bournemouth University UK among others to train its officers and those of its stakeholder. 5.


In a move to consolidate its position as the flagship of disaster management not only for Nigeria but the West Africa sub-region, NEMA has established the Nigeria COSPAS-SARSAT Mission Control Centre (NIMCC) which assists in locating distressed aircrafts and vessels. The Agency has also established a Geographic Information System (GIS) to develop appropriate database on critical infrastructures and develop geo-referenced vulnerable areas mapping. To enhance its search and rescue operations, NEMA has acquired critical assets including helicopters, air and auto life saving ambulances and has established decentralized strategic warehouses for the strategic stockpiling of emergency relief materials in Abuja and the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. 6.


To improve the capacity of its personnel and that of its stakeholders, NEMA has embarked upon a continuous training of emergency responders, communities, NGOs, awareness creation, sensitization programmes and simulation exercises for various emergency scenarios. The Agency undertake the monitoring and evaluation of the Nation’s preparedness to disaster, conducts damage assessment and needs analysis in the aftermath of a disasters to enhance sustainable disaster recovery. The Agency also provides relief and rehabilitation support for persons and communities affected by disasters. 7.


The 2012 disaster can only be compared in magnitude and scale of destruction to the 1967/68 drought that affected the entire Sahel West Africa including all the states of northern Nigeria. The flood has a recorded peak water level of 12.84 meters and maximum discharge of 31.692 m3/s at the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue at Lokoja, Kogi State on September 29, 2012. The unprecedented flood wreaked havoc on several States of the federation, adversely affecting human lives, property, livelihoods, settlements, fresh and coastal water resources, fisheries, forest, biodiversity, agriculture and food supplies. The flood which had negative impacts on health care and sanitation, also lead to severe ecological dislocation, human migrations, and security challenges in Nigeria. The flood, which is attributed to the global climate change, was aggravated by the increase

in volume of rainfall and the release of excess water from Lagdo dam in the upstream of River Benue in neighboring Republic of Cameroun which also coincided with the release of water from Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro Dams into the Niger-Benue river system. 8.


The flood disaster that lasted between August and December 2012 affected over 7 million people, displaced 2.3 million people, resulted in the loss of 363 lives and destroyed or damaged 597,476 houses in 34 States, 256 LGAs and 3,870 communities across Nigeria. According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), 2013 report on the 2012 floods disaster produced jointly by the Government of Nigeria, its key ministries and the World Bank ‘’beginning from July, 2012 heavy rains struck the entire country and its neighbors. The intensity of the rains necessitated the release of waters from of the reservoir of Lagdo dam in the Republic of Cameroun and those of Kainji and Jebba dams in central Nigeria along the river Niger. The total value of losses across all sectors of the Nigerian economy stood at N1.1 Trillion ($7.3 Billion), the value of completely or partially damaged durable assets was N1.5 Trillion ($9.5 Billion) while the impacts of the disaster on the country’s real GDP growth for 2012 was valued at 1.4% an equivalent of N570 Billion ($3.5 Billion) according the PDNP report. 9.


In a nationwide broadcast, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR), the President of Nigeria and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, constituted a Presidential Technical Committee to assess the impacts of the flood disaster by October, 2012. Bases on the report of the Committee, the president announced the release of N177.6 Billion ($104.1 Million) as direct financial assistance to the affected states and some federal government Agencies responsible for disaster management including NEMA. The affected states received N13.3 Billion ($78.7 Million), while the Federal Government Agencies got N4.3 Billion ($25 Million) to cater for the victims. The president further announced the constitution of a National Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation headed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote (GCON), the President of the Dangote Group of Companies, to assist the Federal government raise funds to mitigate the impacts of the disaster and ensure effective rehabilitation of victims, infrastructural resuscitation and environmental damage remediation.



In line with the ECOWAS and South-South cooperation protocols, Nigeria has assisted several African countries faced with emergency challenges. Nigeria is partnering with the Government of the Gambia to establish the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) through capacity building, exchange of information, assets and personnel. Nigeria hosts the COSPAS-SARAT programmes, the International Satellite Search and Rescue Station at the Nigerian Mission Control Centre (NIMCC) located in Abuja and the two Rescue Coordination Centers (RCCs) in Lagos and Kano. The NIMCC Unit receives and disseminates processed distress alert signals from ocean bound vessels and aircrafts across the entire West Africa Sub-Region to relevant stakeholders for timely search and recue operations. 11. CONCLUSION. Disaster Management being multi-jurisdictional, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary and multi-resource requires the ownership and commitment of all; Federal, State and Local Governments, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the private sector. Government has the onerous responsibility of providing leadership, enabling environment and mechanism for coordination, collaboration and cooperation towards effective disaster management. From its inception to date NEMA has achieved tremendous success in facing the ever increasing emergency challenges in Nigeria through the development of requisite Plans, Procedures, Systems and Guidelines. The Agency has ensured effective collaboration with relevant government Agencies, the organised private sector, the academia, NGOs and CBOs to accomplish its important role of emergency management coordination in Nigeria. In line with bilateral and South-South cooperation protocols, Nigeria has rendered humanitarian assistance to several countries. NEMA is the flagship of disaster management and humanitarian service delivery in the West Africa SubRegion. Nigeria is the current Chair of the West African Association of Disaster Management Agencies (GECEAO). As part of the lessons learnt following the 2012 flood disaster NEMA has established a full fledged department of Disaster Risk Reduction and is working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the incorporation of DRR into Nigeria’s development planning.



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