The National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) on Monday raised the alarm that there will be another devastating flood in Nigeria come 2023.
The agency, therefore, warned that the government must take the necessary precautions at all levels, to avert the pending crisis.
The agency also accused governors of not setting up state emergency management agencies, (SEMA) to mitigate the impacts of floods in their states.
Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Mohammed raised the alarm when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Special Duties, chaired by Abubakar Yusuf to defend his agency’s 2023 budget.
According to him, the early warnings given to the states in 2022 by NEMA were ignored, hence the devastating effects all over the affected areas.
He said, “Let me also use this opportunity to prevail on the committee to intervene on our behalf. We have written to states several times. This flood is still coming in 2023.
“They must be advised early to set up SEMA and local emergency committees and fund them adequately. We gave a similar warning last year but our advice was ignored.”
He told the Senators that despite early warnings issued to state and local governments whose areas are flood-prone, none of them had taken any positive steps to guide against it.
Mohammed explained that the federal government had opened up the nation’s silos and had released 12,000 tonnes of grains already which were shared to all the 36 states of the federation
The director general noted that state governments needed to do more in disaster management instead of abandoning it to the federal government.
He said the National Assembly should help to inform the state early enough to avoid other devastating effects.
“NEMA lacked adequate personnel to handle disaster management. State governments should help. We do not enjoy hazard allowance,” Mohammed lamented.
The director general, however, told the committee that only N774 million is earmarked as capital vote for the agency in 2023 budget, N1.77 billion for personnel cost while N162 million is proposed for overhead cost.
In her comments, a member of the Committee, Lilian Ekwunife, expressed doubts over the possibility of the National Assembly telling states and local governments to put arrangements that could prevent flooding in place.
She said: “The National Assembly is an independent institution that is not answerable to any states. The states are also not answerable to us.
“We can only appeal to them but our constituents have a greater role to play by telling their state governments to act fast on the NEMA warning.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Abubakar Yusuf challenged the people of the affected states to hold their governors accountable because the issue was beyond the mandate and jurisdiction of the National Assembly.
The lawmakers urged NEMA to make requests for additional manpower through the head of service to the president. They also stressed the need to review the extant conditions of service of NEMA so that their staff could enjoy a special salary scale.
Another member of the panel, Senator Francis Fadahunsi, appealed to the states to use the huge financial resources at their disposal, especially the ecological funds to address the environmental challenges confronting them.