State and Local government must establish emergency agency-NEMA boss

In the wake of the disappointing rescue efforts for people affected by the flood disaster across the country, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has called for state and local government to establish Emergency Agency at their levels, because they are closer to the people.

This will enhance a prompt rescue mission to save lives whenever disasters strike. This was made known by NEMA’s Director of Search and Rescue, Mr Charles Otegbade on our breakfast show, Sunrise.

Responding to why the delay in rescuing people affected by the flood in Kogi which displaced almost a million people and claimed a number of lives, Mr Otegbade, stated that the agency got hold of the flood disaster in Ebaji (Kogi state) by 4PM and that the rescue team arrived at the disaster spot by 10AM the following day.

“We (NEMA) are a national body and the state and local government emergency agencies should have swung into action before our arrival because they are the closest to the people” he stated.

He also noted that the staff of national emergency agency had to be deployed from Benue state, which was already ravaged by the flood before the call came from to Kogi state.

“So the state and local governments must create these local agencies to quickly assist people whenever a disaster happens.”

He called for increased funding for the agency as well as other agencies that could assist in rescue operations.

“Idly, the Federal Fire Service should be the agency that will lead the rescue mission for flood disasters but because the Fire Service is in a dire state, they cannot do anything, all of these agencies need to developed by funding and manpower to enhance the rescue operations when needed.”

He added that “NEMA is essentially a strategic coordinating agency” as he quickly quipped that “but that does not precludes us (NEMA) from the operational tactics at the operational level.”

“NEMA should have just coordinated the efforts of every other agency if they were adequately equipped with equipment and manpower.”

Mr Otegbade stated that over 6,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are currently accommodated in IDP camps in Kogi state.

The rescue expert claimed the excessive rainfall and release of water from the dam in Cameroun were responsible for the flood.

“What we expressing is the downward movement of the accumulated water from River Niger and River Benue to Delta state” as he spoke about the flood disaster that has also affected the Niger-Delta.