Since he resumed in office, three years ago, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani-Sidi has actively promoted the formation of volunteers groups and mounted massive awareness campaigns on disaster management in Nigeria.
Some of the groups in the forefront of the awareness creation on security consciousness include Youths Against Disasters (YADI), Executive Volunteer Group (EVG), Emergency Youth Vanguards (EYV), Journalists Against Disasters (JAD) among others.
While the agency is saddled with the coordination of response agencies during emergency situations in the country, it nevertheless co-operates and collaborates with relevant institutions in ensuring that the public are well educated and protected from disasters
One federal agency that has come out to further drive and promote the campaign on disaster risk reduction is the National Orientation Agency (NOA) under its current director general, Mike Omeri.
As soon as he was appointed early last year, Omeri launched a number of awareness campaigns aimed at changing the attitude of Nigerians positively. He even signed memoranda of understanding with other agencies like the Ecological Fund Office, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and others to promote these campaigns.
Some of the campaigns include “Avoid Dirt, Be Clean”, Campaign on destruction of used and empty cans, National Symbols Awareness campaign, campaign for sustainable dialogue, ‘Do The Right Thing’ Transform Nigeria campaign, among others.
In a recent paper, NOA stated that it has been engaged in promoting Nigeria’s Core Values by through a nationwide survey of Nigeria’s core values; promoting the dignity of national symbols; cultivating a new crop of leadership; and introduction of civic education in the secondary school curriculum, promoting citizens understanding of the constitution programme; building capacity for community peace and conflict management, feedback to government and forging government/civil society partnership.
A new zeal has been introduced into the agency to be driven by volunteer Nigerians for attitudinal transformation. This campaign is being executed with the active collaboration of traditional and religious leaders. The agency has also made sure that school children must also be taught that the bizarre occurrences in the nation in recent times are not in our character and therefore, must not be imbibed.
The NOA is currently integrating into the Community Support Brigade, a corps of 3,000 Neighbourhood Development Ambassadors, a volunteer corps of unemployed professionals, artisans and youths across the various communities in our nation.
The agency has been working out strategies to mitigate flood impact in the country as the agency’s “Do the Right Thing: Avoid Dirt, Be Clean” gathers steam. It has in addition developed an initiative based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) in response to recurring flooding with its attendant impact to promote a new set of eco-friendly behaviours in reversing the trend.
This initiative had received the endorsement of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and some States’ Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs).
The agency had also hosted a maiden meeting of the Inter – Agency Strategy session on border communities’ sensitization on security awareness. The committee is to design strategy for inculcating national interest awareness among communities on the international borders between Nigeria and neighbouring countries including Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin Republic and the Central African Republic.
This is in view of the growing concern the border communities have a special role in ensuring that governments’ effort in tackling criminal activities along these borders succeeds. The government was not taking any chance in the fight against insecurity and insurgency and so, has directed that an inter- agency collaboration was required to explain and increase the level of patriotism among residents of the border areas.
It is the belief among stakeholders that the agency is in a position to do much more in the areas of citizenship and civic education in and out of the school system by promoting such voluntary organisations like the Boys Scout, Girls Guild, Man O’War and Emergency Vanguard.
Since NOA has offices in all the 774 local government councils in the country, it should also concentrate on nudging members of the community into forming awareness and first aid groups especially in view of the devastating impact of climate change to the environment in the last few years.
It should be of concern to NOA that these groups be nurtured, promoted and encouraged to become effective tools of combating increasing incidences and intensity of emergency and disaster occurrences across the country.
Sanya Adejokun is National Coordinator, Journalists Against Disaster Initiative. www.jadinigeria.org