Stakeholders appraise developments in the Humanitarian affairs ministry
Since 2019 when the Federal Government announced the creation of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, a lot has been said and written about the efforts of the Ministry in cushioning the effects of hardship following prevailing humanitarian situations and social challenges in the country.
The Ministry was mandated to develop humanitarian policies and effectively coordinate National and International humanitarian interventions while ensuring strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response. The Ministry is also responsible for managing the formulation and implementation of fair focused social inclusion and protection programmes in Nigeria.
Consequently, some agencies were domiciled under the purview of the Ministry. And they include the National Commission for Refugees Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons Offices (NCFRMI), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), North East Development Commission (NEDC), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and National Social Investments Programmes (N-SIP).
According to stakeholders, the creation of the Ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development was indeed a timely intervention by the Muhammadu Buhari administration in addressing the challenges in disaster management and humanitarian. They hinged their position on the successes recorded in the Ministry in the last two years, especially in the revamped activities of the National Emergency Management Agency.
According to Ikechuckwu Nwangwu, a disaster prevention and mitigation expert, the Ministry and its agencies have provided humanitarian interventions proactively.
“Despite seemingly daunting and often demanding situations, the Ministry and its Agencies have provided humanitarian interventions and proactively developed structures to prevent and mitigate disaster, while building socio-economic resilience through the evolution of inclusive social safety net programmes.”
He further added that a look at the operations of the National Emergency Management Agency indeed reveals an improvement in service delivery. He associated the successes recorded to oversight leadership provided by the Ministry.
“The case of NEMA has been outstanding. I am of the considered opinion that the honourable Ministry of humanitarian affairs indeed recognized the critical function of NEMA in disaster management in the country, hence the way and manner she has been able to reposition the agency.” He stated.
The leadership of the Disaster Prevention and Management Initiative, an NGO in the sector, corroborated what most industry watchers have said about the newly created Ministry. According to the Secretary-General of the initiative, Josiah Aluna, what the humanitarian Ministry has achieved in two years in disaster management in Nigeria is phenomenal.
“NEMA under the supervision of the Ministry has emphasized disaster preparedness. This is noble and a disconnect from times past where the emphasis was mitigating the effects of disasters in the country. Disasters and emergencies can take a psychological toll on both victims and responders. While there’s no way to completely prevent the adverse psychological effects of experiencing a traumatic event, proper planning can reduce suffering by preventing needless hardship and eliminating or reducing uncertainty. This is the new approach in NEMA, and it’s most commendable.”
This medium also gathered feedback from staffers of the agency who showered praises on the director-general, Alhaji Ahmed Mustapha, for how he has positively turnaround the agency’s fortunes since he assumed leadership.
According to a staff who pleaded anonymity, he stated that since the coming of the director-general, the issue of response to emergencies, method of delivery of relief materials has changed for good.
“It is amazing how our DG has been able to address most of the challenges facing the agency. I can tell you that NEMA now operates as a private organization. The bureaucratic bottleneck associated with public service has been jettisoned. The emphasis has been service delivery. As a fact, the DG has placed everybody on their toes as no one wants to be left out in the chain of activities.”
“The DG has constituted a task force that ensures that nothing can be taken away from NEMA warehouse anywhere in the country without going through a transparent process. Gone are those days where relief materials would vanish into thin air. All of that can’t happen anymore because of the various mechanisms in place in NEMA.”
Another agency staffer who pleaded anonymity stated that transparency is the watchword as the new DG doesn’t take anything less than bargained for. “The new DG is a man of few words but plenty action. He doesn’t take no for an answer, and he believes no task is impossible. He is working hard to ensure that the suffering masses are to benefit from NEMA interventions get nothing less than bargained for.”
This much was corroborated by a top staffer of the humanitarian affairs ministry, who stated that the DG seemed to have quickly keyed into the operational strategy of the minister. I can confidently tell you that issues of NEMA are treated expressly at the Ministry because of the trust the minister has in the DG to turn the fortunes of NEMA around.
“The NEMA DG is often referred to as the poster boy of the Ministry. But what most people didn’t realize was that he was able to win the minister’s confidence, who is very particular about the operations of NEMA. Of course, as a minister, she is aware of the role of proactiveness on disaster management, and the NEMA DG has delivered extensively in this regard.”
“Let us not lose sight of the leadership provided by the honourable minister. If we must admit, the minister’s body language is responsible for the numerous feats recorded in these agencies. For example, heads of agencies under the Ministry understand that there is no room for non-performance. The case of NEMA provides a vivid example where the agency experienced three changes in two years.”
He added that the minister of humanitarian affairs is a stickler for excellence and does not believe in excuses. “As the head of an agency under the ministry of humanitarian affairs, you must either come to the table, or you politely leave the scene because it’s serious business for the ministry and its parastatals.”