Thursday, 8 August 2019

SEMA needs more than a billion Naira to manage disaster in C/River

8 August 2019 

More than a billion Naira (N1, 000, 000, 000. 00) is required for the management of natural and man-made disaster incidents in Cross River NEGROIDHAVEN has garnered reliably. This information was disclosed by Ayim Princewill the Director General of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency SEMA, Tuesday while addressing the press in Calabar the state capital city.

According to the DG of SEMA in the state who was the former Special Assistant to the Governor on disaster management there are a handful of emergency situations which are littered across the state begging for immediate attention. Besides there are some infrastructural issues which his agency needs to effectively manage crisis. 

He drew the attention of the public to the fact that SEMA in the state 'does not have a well structured warehouse' and a befitting office space. This situation led to the recent burglary which led to hoodlums setting the makeshift warehouse on fire in the futile attempt to steal food items and the like meant for those in emergency condition. 

According to him 'we don't have a proper warehouse; last time when these hoodlums heard that NIMASA brought Garri, Rice... because we did not have a warehouse, they went behind, bursted the wall of the Chronicle building, tried to access the building, put fire to the door so that when it falls off they can go in to cart away the materials, unfortunately the fire escalated and they ran away. You can imagine it is a makeshift warehouse.'

Speaking further he said SEMA 'needs more than a billion Naira to take care some of these disasters we are having across the 18 local government areas of the state. And you know the problem is perennial, that is, these communal land issues. From the time series plotted against the crisis variation to check how frequent these issues occur we discovered that around June, July are the months that crisis usually erupts in Cross River State. So, when you have done this kind of assessment you know definitely you need to put things in place to make sure that you don't have such reoccurring.'

While enumerating the emergency disaster flash points in the state, Princewill highlighted the 'Communal crisis in Abi, that is the Ebom/ Usumutong crisis where lives where lost and millions of property destroyed; the Ebijakara problem which was more or less like an ethnic cleansing —shelter and succour have to be put in place. 

'Flood has been constant. Some of the flood we have are temporary and permanent. If you go to Calabar South where the market is close to the local government headquarters you will see an artificial lake developed there for years. That is an epidemic looming already. Government must look into their plight to reclaim the land which the lake has taken. If you go to Ibom Layout, houses where destroyed, even in town we have internally displaced persons because of that. We have about 47, 200 IDPs in Cross River and the number is on the increase. When you have crisis, people are displaced. 

'We have the refugees situation in Cross River. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has a field office and sub office in Cross River at the moment. Cross River has 27, 680, Ogoja alone has 11, 230 refugees. That's a problem. Government has tried a lot by giving them land to build shelter. The United Nations High Commission on Refugees came in as a supporting partner and has built about 847 permanent shelters'.

Fire outbreak was another disaster challenge in the state. Princewill disclosed that there are attempts to address the issues with a collaboration with SEMA and the Nigerian Communication Commission working to create an emergency communication facility in Cross River. The facility will have a responder and dispatcher operation involved in dialing an emergency code to call during crisis. He said the commissioning for use of the project will be soon. 

The SEMA boss who observed that there is a volunteering system in his agency harbouring about 44 Nigerians, called for more volunteers. He acknowledged that NEMA had sent relief materials worth millions of Naira for the Ebom/Ebijakara communal crisis in Abi including building materials, food materials and cash benefits. 

He promised to give his best in his service to Nigerians through SEMA. He envisions leaving SEMA a more viable agency. 

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