The Bayelsa State Government has challenged other security agencies to take a cue from the Nigerian Air Force to join forces with the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the country.
Governor Seriake Dickson made the call at the Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, during the closing ceremony of the two- week Civil-Military Operations, code-named “Exercise Ebiye Rin” organized by the Nigerian Air Force.
Represented by the Deputy Governor, Retired Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, he said the Air Force has blazed the trail in the state with its invaluable assistance to victims of last year’s flood especially in the provision of free medical care.
On the need to establish the emergency agencies at the state and local government levels, Governor Dickson disclosed that efforts are being made to create a legal framework to set up such agencies and empower their personnel to perform their functions.
Commending the Nigerian Air Force for its role both in war and peace times, the Governor observed that through the Civil-Military operations the NAF has endeared itself to the people.
In her remarks, the Acting Minister of Defence, Dr. Olusola Obada, represented by the Director of Air Force, Mrs Olubunmi Siyanbola expressed the hope thatthe lessons learnt during the exercise would help to alleviate the effects of man-made and natural disasters.
Also speaking, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh, said the aim of the exercise was basically to mitigate the effects of natural disasters as well as build capacity in disaster management.
The Chief of Air Staff, who remarked that the exercise was also used to mark the 49th anniversary of the NAF, appreciated the efforts of NEMA in last year’s flood as well as the state government’s commitment to the conduct of the exercise.
He said the aim of the exercise is to enhance skills in planning, coordination and execution of relief operations in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organizations and donor communities as well as understanding the requirements and challenges involved.
Earlier in his address, the Air Officer Commanding, Mobility Command, Air Vice Marshall Olufemi Idowu said the exercise did not only provide relief to over 14,000 persons in Bayelsa but also improved the readiness of the Air Force to manage the consequences of any disaster.
In a lecture titled “National Preparedness For Disaster Response: Challenges and Prospects”, the Director-General of NEMA, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi, stated that the 2012 floods displaced 2.3 million people, killed over 363 persons and damaged about 597, 479 houses across the country.
He stressed the need for the setting up of emergency management agencies at state and local government levels in accordance with the NEMA Act.