…Despite increasing incidents of fire disasters, Fire Service departments across the country are in shambles
At the maiden meeting of the present Federal Executive Council (FEC), President Muhammadu Buhari explained why he created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management. His reasons were not far-fetched. The country was contending with a lot of humanitarian issues, which were occasioned by unforeseen situations like the Boko Haram insurgency that has displaced thousands of people in the Northeast region of the country, flood disasters and fire outbreaks, among others. People affected by these unfortunate incidents no doubt needs support from wherever it can come from, especially the government. Although the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been on ground to tackle such cases, the President felt that creating the new Ministry was necessary “to fully institutionalise our various interventions that support some of the poorest and most distressed citizens of our country.”
As is the practice in our political system, it will not be surprising to see the states follow suit with time just like they did with the creation of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), their own replica of NEPA.
But at the bottom of Nigeria’s humanitarian crisis is the ill preparedness of the agencies mandated to either nip foretold disasters in the bud or mitigate the effects of unforeseen disasters on the victims. Thus, a million humanitarian affairs ministries across the country without the enablement to function effectively will absolutely not yield the desired result.
For instance, the recent fire outbreak in Onitsha, Anambra State claimed five lives and razed over 500 lock-up shops on Iweka Street Market. Although, the state has a Fire Service Department attached to the Ministry of Power and Water Resources, they were just not prepared to intervene. But for firemen from the Delta State Fire Service that were drafted to put out the fire, more casualities could have been recorded.