By Abdulkadir Ibrahim

The Directory General, DG of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Habib Ahmed, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2021.

Despite the fact that the 100-day mark is mostly arbitrary, it has become a significant symbolic threshold for assessing how well a new leader is doing. The first 100 days frequently reveal a leader’s management style, organizational priorities, and other characteristics.

But Ahmed, the NEMA DG, has exceeded all expectations with his accomplishments over the last 16 months.

Almost immediately after the appointment, a review of his resume revealed that he was one with experience and capability. This resume has been validated, and it has revealed the secret to NEMA’s success under his leadership.

More intriguing is how he formed and created synergy among stakeholders in Nigerian humanitarian activities. His incredible vision, including mentorship and patriotism, has driven him to change the face of emergency management in Nigeria, with various government and non-government organizations donating equipment and relief materials due to the new enhanced accountability structure, in ensuring that the items are delivered.

The recent flooding in parts of the country in 2022, as well as NEMA’s response, demonstrated that a lot can be accomplished with the right people in positions of leadership.

For the first time, we saw a well-coordinated disaster management regime, demonstrating that NEMA’s leadership and the agency were on top of their game, through its response to the disaster, via early warning and mobilization of state governments through sensitization, as well as the provision of humanitarian assistance, not to only flood-affected states, but to all 36 states of the federation, in response to President Buhari’s instruction for the Distribution of Relief Items for Vulnerable People, from the Federal Government’s Strategic Grains Reserve, to mitigate the impact of food shortages, caused by flooding on farmlands.

Nigerians have witnessed changes in the sphere of disaster management in the country since his appointment as NEMA DG, which can be attributed to the tireless and dedicated efforts of the staff and the DG of NEMA, Habib, who was appointed in June 2021.

It is clear that Habib has changed the country’s approach to disaster management, by employing strategic values that have saved lives and billions of naira in property; as well as maintaining and improving relationships with stakeholders, particularly specialized volunteers involved in disaster relief efforts across the country.

Among his notable achievements as NEMA DG include the acquisition of digital communications equipment, such as the Hyetera Digital System for seamless communication between the agency’s zonal, territorial, and operations offices to advance the cause of disaster management in Nigeria.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Foundation, KSF, Relief Center also helped to upgrade the emergency call center by providing mobile field broadband equipment.

Other landmark achievements include:

NEMA staff and stakeholders are being trained and retrained through regional seminars, conferences, and simulation exercises.

NEMA’s improved early warning alerts have helped greatly in reducing the risk of excessive rainfall, which has resulted in massive flooding.

Improved disaster response, including successfully evacuating stranded Nigerians from troubled countries and reuniting them with their families in Nigeria.

Routine food distribution for internally displaced people in camps and host communities throughout the BAY – Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe – states, which are recovering from the effects of insurgency is being implemented smoothly and on time.

Cooperation with international partners and governments has resulted in donations of medicines, food, and non-food relief items from these partners/governments, which include the King Salman Relief Centre in Saudi Arabia, the Jordanian government, and the United Arab Emirates.

Improved staff welfare, which has created a sense of unity, harmony, and purpose among the staff, has increased productivity, prompting the staff unions to present the DG with the agency’s first award of excellence.

Habib, as DG of NEMA, has also facilitated the procurement and deployment of search and rescue kits for staff, as well as specialized equipment, such as mobile intensive care units, boats, response vehicles, mobile water treatment plants, and so on. NEMA’s air ambulance service was also resurrected.

With an emphasis on disaster risk reduction strategy to promote global best practices, the DG has been successful in encouraging state governments to adequately fund state emergency management agencies in order to reduce disaster risk.

•Ibrahim is an Information Officer at NEMA Headquarters, Abuja.


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