Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me start by expressing my sincere appreciation and gratitude to my brother, His Excellency, Honorable Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, CON for the warm reception granted to us despite the short notice of our visit to Yola. Your Excellency, we have expected no less, because this is Adamawa State; the Land of Beauty.
Your Excellency, as we are all aware, the 2023 rainy season has impacted several States including Adamawa State with flood disasters and associated hazards resulting in loss of lives and destruction of means of livelihoods. Even as the rains gradually recede especially in the northern states of Nigeria, the swelling up of major rivers coupled with weak compliance to safety regulations have resulted in boat accidents with heavy human and material losses. In this regards, the ugly boat accidents in Gurin and Garin Alhaji communities of Fufore Local Government Area, Adamawa State amongst others comes to mind. Several lives were lost; our brothers and sisters that lost their loved once are still deal with the traumatic experience. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has recorded similar devastating incidences in Niger, Kwara, Kebbi, Anambra and other riparian states of Nigeria.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to use this opportunity to commiserate with Your Excellency and the good people of Adamawa State over the loss of lives. I pray that Allah (SWA) grants them eternal peace and give us the fortitude to bear the irreparable losses.
Let me say that a time has come for us to rethink our disaster risk management especially in respect of the annually recurring flood disasters and boat accidents along major rivers in consideration of the human toll. Some of the disasters are indeed predictable and avoidable. For example, the enforcement of the use of life jackets by passenger’s onboard canoes and motorized boats can go a long way in saving lives in the event of boat mishaps. Ensuring that boats are not overloaded can reduce the incidence of boats capsizing while ferrying human and material cargo. It has become necessary for State governments and Federal Inland Water Way authorities to put in place strict regulations to avoid the overloading of boats and ferries and to enforce the full utilization of life jackets by passengers travelling on waterways.
Going forward, in this regards, NEMA is planning to partner with State Governments and other national and sub national actors to convene a national workshop on the mitigation of recurring incidences of boat accidents in our riparian communities. We intend to downscale the proceedings of the conference to grassroots in form public sensitization and awareness creation on riparian disaster risk reduction. NEMA will support targeted communities and relevant occupational groups with life jackets and other valuable life-saving protective gear.
Let me also use this opportunity to commend Adamawa State Government for being amongst the first to take disaster risk governance to the grassroots. Since last year, we received the good news that Your Excellency has inaugurated Local Emergency Management Committees (LEMCs) for all the 21 Local Government Areas of Adamawa State. I am sure the people of Adamawa State have started benefiting from that laudable initiative especially during this critical moment. I want to appeal to Your Excellency to set aside a predictable funding for Adamawa SEMA and the LEMCs to enable them intervene timely to save lives and safeguard livelihoods whenever disasters hit. As we always say; disasters are all local, the life-saving first responders must always be local. As disasters become part and parcel of life, we must learn to mitigate them, reduce their impacts, transfer losses through insurance and learn to internalize them under unavoidable circumstances.
I want to assure Your Excellency of the continuous support of NEMA to Adamawa SEMA in the areas of capacity building, relief intervention and the sharing of disaster response assets especially through the NEMA Operations Office here in Yola. Not long ago, we invited the Executive Secretary, Adamawa SEMA for a one-week training program on Incidence Management System (ICS) in Abuja. By January, 2024, we are once again inviting Adamawa SEMA for a high level International Disaster Management Training to be conducted by the Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) under the sponsorship of NEMA. I also wish to inform Your Excellency that NEMA will replace all the relief and recovery items of the Special National Economic Livelihoods Emergency Intervention (SNELEI) looted by vandals in our Yola warehouse. We cannot allow the good people of Adamawa State to be short changed by the ugly situation.
Finally, Your Excellency, I once again most sincerely appreciate you for your promise to provide the NEMA Yola Operations Office with office and warehouse accommodation right inside the Government House here in Yola for safety and security. This is following the attack and vandalization of our premises sometimes ago by demonstrators. Your Excellency, I make bold to say no State Government has granted this kind gesture to NEMA. This singular effort will certainly cement the existing mutual support and collaboration between NEMA and Adamawa SEMA.
Thank you all and God Bless.
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