NEMA Vs LASEMA: Emergency Agencies Clash In Lagos
The reported feud between the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was confirmed by the South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Iyola Akande, who warns that “the clash is a thing that is booming and we need to nip in the bud before it escalates.â
Akande was a guest on Channels Televisionâs breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where he revelaed that officials of his agency have been repeatedly chased away from emergency scenes in Lagos by LASEMA officials and some NEMA officials were allegedly arrested on instruction of LASEMA officials at the site of a collapsed building.
This according to him, has occurred on more than four occasions in recent times as the state grapples with increasing building collapses.
He also stated that the national agency recentlyÂ Â received a letter from the Lagos state commissioner for special duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed, asking them not to go to emergency scenes unless invited.
The NEMA Zonal coordinator questioned a claim by the Director General of LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu that the national emergency agency are ânot supposed to be at emergency scenes except when called upon by LASEMA.â
He also disagreed with the notion that the call to NEMA will be made when âthey (LASEMA) are overwhelmedâ, arguing that by the law, NEMA should be the primary respondent at all emergency scenes.
He referred to the recent plane crash in a San Francisco airport where the US national and state emergency agencies combined efforts to rescue passengers on board the Asian Airlines flight 214 aircraft, noting that such collaboration is what NEMA and LASEMA should be doing to addresss emergency situations and save lives.
Quoting from the Acts establishing both agencies, Akande asked what âexperience has LASEMA got that will determine that NEMA should not be involved in its activities?â
The National Emergency Management Agency was established in 1999 while the state agency was launched in 2008.
We Will Call NEMA When We Need Them
In his reaction, the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Femi Osanyintolu, stated that NEMA can only be a secondary respondent at emergency situations not a primary respondent because the state and local emergency agencies are closer to the people and can be quickly deployed to the emergency scene to save lives.
He argues that NEMA can only be the first respondent in a situation where the state and local emergency agencies are not available.
Dr Osanyintolu is reported to have written a letter to NEMA in Lagos state asking the national emergency agency not to report to emergency scenes unless invited.
He defended the letter saying that is the protocol of professional emergency management because âwe do not want our emergency scenes jampacked.â
âWhen we need them (NEMA), we will call themâ, âthat is the protocolâ he affirmed.
“We are not competing; communication is the nucleus of emergency management and we need to talk more.”