*Senate Moves To Place NEMA Under Presidency
The embattled Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Abeeb Muhammed has said that the refusal of state governors to heed its warnings of impending floods in 2022, caused the natural disaster in parts of the country.
He also raised the alarm of a more disastrous flooding incident in the upcoming year, 2023.
The NEMA Boss during an appearance before the Senate Committee on Special Duties headed by Senator Yusuf Yusuf from (APC Taraba state) to defend the 2023 budget proposal of his agency advised that governments at all levels should brace up for the challenges ahead by establishing local emergency committees to mitigate the devastating impacts of floods and other disasters across the country.
“Despite the fact that states are collecting Ecological and other intervention funds from the federal government, some of them could not boost the standing committee on disaster management and when there is a disaster they look up to the federal government for assistance”, he said.
He added that “Prior to the 2022 flood disaster, NEMA wrote about four letters to all states of the federation on the need to set up a local emergency committee to mitigate the impact of floods but to our surprise, only four states heeded the advice.”
The NEMA Chief disclosed a bottom-up approach in disaster management where the local government is the first respondent followed by the state and if it is beyond what the state can handle, the federal government can then come on board.
“But it is surprising that if there is any disaster, local governments and states look up to NEMA without first providing preliminary support and the manpower and resources at the disposal of NEMA are nothing to write home about. Even what happened in Bayelsa and other states in terms of casualties can be prevented or minimised if proper arrangements are made” he said.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Special Duties decried poor budgetary allocation to NEMA and promised to come up with legislation that would put the agency under the presidency for optimum performance.
The committee also urged NEMA to get the states engaged and ensure that there are proper plans for people displaced by floods.
“It is high time NEMA go beyond distributing rice, beans and blankets to victims of flood but ensure that you partner with state governments to set up camps for flood victims ” Senator Lilian Ekwunife
Another member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadahunsi (Osun East PDP) advised the agency to come up with accurate numbers of flood casualties and data on farms, animals, and houses affected by floods across the country.
Earlier, the NEMA boss told the committee that only N774 million is earmarked as a capital vote for the agency in 2023, N1.77 billion for personnel costs while a sum of N162 million is proposed for overhead costs in the 2023 budget.
The Senate committee however pledged to look into the capital budget proposed for the agency in view of the envisaged flood disaster in 2023.