The recent appointment of Air Vice Marshal Muhammadu Muhammed (rtd.) as the new Director-General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) by the President Muhammadu Buhari remains one of the best decisions of the current administration in effort to restore confidence and credibility to the agency. In summary, these were the major losses by the agency under the immediate past Director- General, Mr Mustapha Y. Maihaja.
Maihaja’s four-year tenure would have elapsed by April 2021, but under his watch the agency was dogged with series of controversies and allegations of corrupt practices. The sacked NEMA DG was also embroiled in crisis with his local chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Yobe State where he was expelled over anti-party activities. The House of Representatives during investigations into NEMA activities in 2018 accused him of mismanagement and inefficiency.
The new DG of NEMA has recognized the importance of media as a veritable tool in public sensitization on disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response in line with NEMA’s mandate on disaster awareness. He has expressed the need for transparency in the management of the agency’s resources and assured that media would be actively involved to keep the public abreast of its activities.
In the inaugural media briefing on 21 May, 2020, the new DG sought to mobilize available resources on the fight against disasters. In his words, “In practical terms, disaster management will seek to mobilize resources of all relevant bodies and organizations, national or international, towards preparedness, prevention, mitigation, emergency response and recovery.”
Muhammed assured of his commitment to uphold public trust and confidence as he steers the wheel of disaster management especially at these times. He promised to effectively respond to disasters as they occur and even before they occur. He said, “While the world is grappling with the management of all the already existing disasters, the current COVID-19 Pandemic has made the situation even worse. This is the scenario we are truly confronted with. Despite steps and actions taken by people or states; little can be done to avert the occurrences of these disasters. What is important therefore is to effectively respond and mitigate the effect of disasters once they occur”.
The new DG stated that an organization is the fulcrum of its success; as such staff would be equipped with the requisite knowledge through trainings to ensure they give the best whenever called upon.
This appears to be a rainbow in the clouds for the agency as it was plagued with challenges.
AVM Muhammed has taken to NEMA a vast wealth of experience and achievements to benefit the nation and disaster management. He was a former Chief of Policy and Plans at the Nigerian Airforce before his retirement. A holder of prestigious national and international flying licenses and recipient of several distinguished military service honours, he had also held other operational and strategic positions in the Nigerian Airforce that include the Air Secretary, Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command and Managing Director of Nigerian Airforce Investment.
AVM Muhammed has flown several aircraft types which include: Air Force One (B737 BBJ), Alpha Jet, Gulf Stream 550, Dassault Falcon 900, Citation Jet, L39 ZA and Bulldog 123. His decorations include General Service Star (GSS), Pass Staff College(PSC) and Fellow Defence College, among others.
NEMA, in the hands of Muhammadu Muhammed, is undergoing a positive turn around. Disaster management in Nigeria is once again a priority under the new leadership.
Adetola Idemudia, Abuja