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FEMA lacks qualified disaster managers, but prepared for crisis, says DG

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DG, Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still suffering from lack of qualified or certified disaster managers and professionals, as over 80 per cent of its staff are administrative officers who lack requisite skills to tackle disaster cases.

Director-General of FEMA, Abbas Idriss, disclosed this to The Guardian yesterday in Abuja while speaking on the agency’s preparation against possible flooding for year.

The outburst was coming on the heels of criticisms from some residents over uncoordinated approaches by the agency when severe flooding and bomb blasts took place in some parts of Abuja in the last five years.

His words, “We need adequate training. As I speak to you, FEMA lacks qualified and certified disaster managers in FCT. Each of its five departments ought to be manned by certified disaster managers, for proper decision-making as well as coordination whenever emergencies occur. What we have presently are purely administrative staff.”

He stressed the urgent need for special budgetary allocations for training and re-training existing staff of the agency.

“I may tell you now that N1 billion is enough for us this year, but an incident may require over N2 billion when it occurs. So there is no way one can quantify the amount needed to manage disaster.

“As it is now, we are building on basic tools such as life jackets and boats, though we are not a riverine area,” he noted.

On the issue of preparedness in case of flooding before the end of 2019, the DG stated, “We are very much prepared. In short, on a daily basis, we take every incident as a challenge and then we open our horizon to see things clearly. Yet we are not envisaging any flooding this year in the FCT. But remember that we did not envisage the flooding at Galadimawa last time and we ended up using speedboats and life jackets.

“We are prepared; we’ve acquired speed boats, canoes and several other tools we never had. We have also improved and trained our local divers; the kind of training we gave them was really different from what we were thinking. We have strengthened our information dissemination strategies, including massive sensitisation to the general public and many more.”

He expressed appreciation to the FCT minister, Muhammad Bello, for creating the emergency distress call centre, to enable residents call the appropriate authorities in case of disaster.

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