African group praises NEMA, says agency prudent under Maihaja

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NEMA Director-General, Mustapha Maihaja

An African-based group of counter-disaster experts, under the auspices of Africa Stands Against Disaster (ASAD), commends the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for an effective service delivery under Director General, Engineer Mustapha Maihaja.

After an appraisal meeting of the activities of the Agency in recent years, at the end of 2018 year review meeting, the West African regional Coordinator of ASAD, Mr Bassey Bradley, commended the effective and efficient management of resources at NEMA.

Emphasising that, “We deliberated on many areas of operations of NEMA, which we found out that, Nigeria’s response to crisis and disaster is one of the shining stars on the continent. The disaster management and responses to emergencies are superb and exemplary under Engineer Mustapha Maihaja.”

The meeting took place in Kano, recently, when almost all regional Coordinators from across the larger continent of Africa were in attendance. When they put on the table, how similar agencies from all African countries spared in 2018. Apart from how such agencies operate, experts reviewed how compliant are nations with the global best practices in disaster management and response to emergencies.

Bradley explained that, “NEMA’s all-embracing and encouraging role in managing disasters in form of draughts, famine, epidemic, earthquake, flooding among others are encouraging, worth mentioning and commendable. It is understood that, NEMA’s partnership with partner agencies like Military, Police and international humanitarian agencies is articulate and immensely professional.”

While dismissing any allegation of misappropriation of resources by NEMA, as being speculated by some quarters, the African group reveals that, its investigation into the Report of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), on the Nigerian Humanitarian Dashboard, that was published on 23rd May, 2017, indicates that the funding for the humanitarian response for the North Eastern Nigeria stands at $1.05 Billion from January to April 2017.

Under this amount, Bradley said “The sum of $590 Million was for food and nutrition. We found out that, as at April 2017 it was only the sum of $948 Million that was made available by the donors out of the total $1.05 billion. What are those people saying concerning this? So what are those detractors saying when there was a shortfall of $495 million?

Part of the group’s work according to him is to peer review spending of agencies like NEMA, adding that “We look and examine where they get logistics support and how they spend and manage resources, either out-sourced or given by governments of their respective places.”

Maihaja’s NEMA also excels in other areas that were regarded as stages for intervention, as highlighted by the Regional Coordinator, Bradley. He said “Our finding shows that, in the areas of pre-assessment relief, post-disaster response after conducting a post-disaster needs assessment and recovery/rehabilitation, NEMA has performed wonderfully well.”

ASAD, as a group of experts in disaster management and response to emergencies cited Maihaja’s quick response approach to some disasters that happened in the past. Those incidents they challenged were enough reasons for Maihaja to be crown as the best among the best.

The incidents included “…the flood incident in Kogi state on 8th September, 2017 where NEMA responsed quickly on 11th September, 2017. Another flood incident was that of Kebbi state on the 30th April, 2017 when NEMA also responded on the 9th May, 2017.”

Bradley continued “When there was flood disaster in 12 states of the federation, the sum of N1.6 Billion was set aside and released as intervention for the affected states. To show you how effective and efficient NEMA is under Engineer Maihaja, they immediately conducted Needs Assessment, to ascertain the specific needs from the affected places.”

He added that, all the relief materials were transparently distributed, ensuring that, “From the investigation so far, it is indicative that, all the affected states were given according to their needs based on the report of the Needs Assessment. We also established that all receipts collected from those states are readily available at NEMA. This is what we call prudent management of resources.”

Another landmark achievement of Maihaja was in the area of bringing back the stranded Nigerians from Libya. ASAD understands that such operation was a multi-agency operation.

As NEMA spearheading the operation, it was, according to Bradley, “…successfully executed. We can still remember that the operation was carried out between 26th December, 2017 to 22nd February, 2018. To tell you that NEMA is highly professional in its operations, they started with a Fact-finding mission to, ascertain and authenticate the already supplied information.”

According to the group NEMA partnered in a very professional manner, with the recognised stakeholders listed as, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, National Intelligence Agency, Department of State Security, NAPTIP, National Commission for Refugees, relevant state governments, amongst others.

“The process followed by NEMA from the Fact-finding mission assignment to authenticate information, to deployment of technical team, up to monitoring and evaluation aspects of the operation, was highly commendable. Not only by us, but by other global bodies. Look at the reception point which was centred at Port Harcourt. Everything was neat and clean.” Bradley boasts.

The group reveals further that, they were aware that, 5,037 Nigerians were earlier estimated to be evacuated to Nigeria. But because of some insecurity situation in Libya, 2,130 were the first batches to be evacuated.

“But through other alternative arrangement, which includes International Office for Migration (IOM), another set of 3,303 were equally evacuated back to Nigeria. We also learned that, all the returnees are safe and healthy,” says Bradley.

By way of appreciating the prudent management o resources from the part of NEMA Mr Bradley highlights that, in one of their findings on the activities of Agency, concerning Libya returnees, they investigated that the sum of N102,714,095.00 and $4,864,224.00 were approved by President Buhari for the entire project.

“What interests all of us was the information that the balanc of N11,039,555.00 and $2,528,073.00 were returned back to the government treasury respectively. This is highly commendable for such agencies. And mark you, we can’t shortlist all feats achieved by NEMA at a go. What we gave out are just some out of many,” Bradley concludes.

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