The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has disclosed that there are currently 850 thousand Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the various relief camps across the country.
NEMA’s Northwest Coordinator Abdullahi Mohammed made spoke in Lagos during an emergency and disaster preparedness retreat organised for members of the House of Representatives Committee on NEMA.
He said there are over 850,000 IDPs in 31 camps across the country, with 20 of the camps filled with people from the northeast, who have been displaced by the activities of Boko Haram terrorists.
Mohammed said the statistics was compiled on Tuesday, just as he stated that the agency is mopping up IDPs in other states, who fled from neighbouring northeastern states.
“We have them in Kano, Kaduna, FCT, Plateau and Nasarawa. So, we are mopping them and gathering them in all established camps to establish their numbers and give them appropriate care they require as citizens,” he said.
Asked the plans NEMA has for the reintegration of the IDPs, Mohammed said reintegrating the affected persons was not an immediate issue as a result of the insurgency.
“It is a gradual process because their homes have been burnt and they have lost all their belongings. So, what the government is working on is relocation and it is not something that will come immediately.
“Both federal and state governments as well as private organizations and international partners are working towards that. It is a joint effort to ensure that these persons are properly settled in their respective places of domain or relocated so that they can continue with their normal lives.
“They major challenge NEMA has had in handling the IDPs is movement. These are people who are not used to sitting down in one place and also, once they find any threats in their surroundings, where the camps are situated, they flee the camps for fear of their lives.
“The country has adequate relief camps. Everybody is involved including all other sectors of government. We are doing everything possible to provide succour for the IDPs. Everything thing is being done to ensure they are adequately catered for. Funding is not NEMA’s challenge, but our challenge is how to get the IDPs to settle back in their normal lives,” said Mohammed.
Also speaking, Chairman, House Committee on NEMA, Ifedayo Abegunde said the committee will take steps towards the amendment of the NEMA Act to enable the agency function optimally.
Using the situation in Diamond Estate, Igando, where people build houses near the pipelines contrary to established laws, Abegunde said it was obvious other stakeholder agencies, who are supposed to enforce these laws, have failed in their responsibilities.
He frowned at the report of people erecting structures under high tension cables and beside pipelines, calling on NEMA to intensify its awareness campaigns so that people will understand the dangers associated with such actions.
Abegunde said he wants a proactive NEMA, not one that is reactive, just as he appealed to other state governments to emulate Lagos and establish State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA).
Noting that the source of funds for NEMA does not only come through the budget, Abegunde said the agency has direct access to Ecological Fund, from which they carry out emergency response.
“They have purchased several equipment-aircraft, air ambulances- that I know of and that did not go through the National Assembly. They have direct access to the Ecological Fund which is under the Vice President. The only thing they cannot use that they cannot use that money for is training,” he said.
In his presentation, the Emergency Manager, UNICEF, Nigeria, Soji Adeniyi said the country ranked seven in a recent survey of countries with highest rate of internal displacement.
He said NEMA should be empowered to command some level of control on other line ministries in order for the agency to perform optimally, just as he advocated the need for an amendment of the NEMA Act, to empower the agency perform certain roles.
Adeniyi noted that lack of a credible data base and information management, relief agency syndrome, weak legislation and poorly funded SEMAs were among the challenges bedeviling effective emergency management in the country.
Adeniyi said: “Statutorily, NEMA should be in a position that whoever heads the agency should be at par with a Minister so that he can call other line ministries to order and get them to do the things that should be done in an emergency.