By Joyce Remi-Babayeju
The Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Tuesday , inaugurated disaster Marshalls ahead of weather as it takes early warning campaign to students and staff of University of Abuja, Abuja.
The Director-General, FEMA, Dr Abbas Idriss, at the symposium said that the goal was to find lasting solutions to natural and human-induced threats to lives and properties in the FCT.
Idriss explained that the symposium was a partnership between FEMA and the University of Abuja as a collaborative approach to disaster management.
According to him, the sensitisation was crucial to enlighten students and the university community with the needed knowledge on early warning and disaster prevention and reduction.
“The aim of the symposium is to sensitize students and the university community on climate change, early warning, and disaster management.”
“This will enable students and stakeholders in the university community to become disaster reduction champions and responders in their homes and communities.”
The students will get disaster risk reduction to the public by educating their parents, their peers and their younger ones, he said.
The Director General of FEMA disclosed that the agency was established to serve as the primary coordinating body for all disaster-related issues in the nation’s capital by working in synergy with all emergency stakeholders.
Meanwhile,the FEMA boss said that the agency has inaugurated Disaster Marshals who would be sensitising communities and respond to emergencies in communities.
Mr Olusade Adesola, Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), who commissioned the disaster marshals said they would play a critical role in managing emergencies.
Adesola, who was represented by Mr Abdulrazeq Leremoh, acting Secretary, Education Secretariat, FCTA, expressed optimism that the impact of the marshals would be felt beyond the boundaries of the FCT.
“As agents of change, your role is to educate your communities on what constitutes disaster risk and how to reduce such risk among people.”
Where the need to respond to emergencies arises, it is your responsibility to coordinate the efforts of those around you who will render assistance,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Abdul-Rasheed Na’ Alah, noted that disasters destroyed livse and the university would strengthen partnership with FEMA to educate the university community on disaster risk reduction.
Na’Alah noted that people need to know the ways to prevent human-induced disasters, adding that equipping students with such knowledge was key to the success of any disaster prevention strategy.
Furthermore, Ms Florence Wenegienme, Director, Forecasting Response and Mitigation, FEMA, said that the 200 disaster marshals would be trained on emergency response, rescue operations, first aid and among others to effectively respond to emergencies.
Wenegienme explained that the collaboration with tertiary institutions was to ensure full participation of students on disaster management.
According to her, 60 of the marshals were drawn from the six Area Councils of the FCT, made up of divers, local emergency committees, disaster vanguards, and volunteers.
“Others are 110 students, 10 lecturers and 20 journalists.”
“We will expand the initiative to other tertiary institutions in FCT, particularly the University of Technology, Abaji, and College of Education Zuba,” she said.
One of the students, Rashidat Ahmed of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, who was inaugurated as one of the disaster marshals, commended FEMA and the university for the initiative.
“I have learned a lot and will do my best to contribute immensely to disaster risk reduction in the school and my community,” she said.