Nigeria, NEMA and terrorism By E.E. Durueke

This essay, amongst other reasons, was prompted by the complex, pitiable and horrific nature of the present day terrorist siege persistently dogging Nigeria with its alarming gory consequences.

As you are reading this passage, another set of churches, mosques, police or army barracks may be at the verge of being blown into rubbles by die-hard

religious fanatics and suicide bombers, while their previous numerous victims are either in their untimely graves or groaning in pains at various hospitals. Invariably, the compounding consequences, socially, economically, psychologically and politically is presently unquantifiable.

This problem seems increasingly more terrifying and complex to the federal government because neither is its occurrence predictable nor are their perpetrators easily identifiable. In view of this state of confusion, fear, anxiety and helplessness, it is imperative, therefore, to proffer some far reaching expert advice by way of crises management and damage limitation, so as to lessen or mitigate this unwarranted human carnage. For a start it is worthwhile to pose this question. “DOES NIGERIA HAVE A POLICY OF INCIDENT MANAGEMENT AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ROBUST ENOUGH TO GRAPPLE WITH TODAY’S ACTS OF TERRORISM AND FUTURE RELATED CHALLENGES?

Of course, it does not require tasking one’s sense of reasoning to resolve this question in the negative. Also it is a truism to say that terrorism is a crime with a very bright future in Nigeria.

Presently, the National Emergency Management Agency (N.E.M.A), is the federal government agency that has so far been grappling with both incidence and consequence of this unfolding acts of terrorism within the limits of her previous capacity. This statement equally admits the fact of the involvement and efforts of the various Nigerian Security Agencies in this onerous task but specifically in the area of incident management.

N.E.M.A, in keeping with its name, is a federal government agency responsible for coordinating all efforts aimed at disaster mitigation. This definition of course has in view the indices, or elements, of the theory of incidence or crises control, containment and restoration.

Regrettably, the present N.E.M.A, its structure, system and procedure is mainly a (civil) natural disaster emergency management agency quite unprepared for the present day terrorist kind of incidence and its concomitant consequences.

At this juncture, it is proper to distinguish incidence management from consequence management for a better understanding of the topic.

incidence management could be described as efforts made to prevent the occurrence of acts of terrorism or to grapple with any such occurrence with a view of restoring the situation to its original “status quo ante belum” (bringing back the upset situation to its previous state of normalcy).

Conversely, consequence management includes and not limited to, efforts made by either a government or body towards grappling with the aftermath of a terrorist act with the aims of not only mitigating or ameliorating its consequences but restoring or returning the situation to its “Status quo ante belum”. This of course, requires and involves a timely initiation of a deliberate effort at damage limitation. Here again, the aim of damage limit is both physical and psychological.

Granted that N.E.M.A, has proved her mettle in rescue efforts of a few plane crash victims, even in these instances, her efforts were severally limited by the gross lack of the right kind of man power and equipment. Often times, Julius Berger and other construction giants were their sources of succor in terms of men and equipment. One of the cases in point was the Ejigbo plane disaster years back.

Apparently and most unfortunately too, N.E.M.A, was in this sorry state before Boko Haram bestride her like a colossus, further compounding the agency’s vows and exposed her under belly.

In response, and as an immediate panacea, N.E.M.A, as an agency whose role is very critical in the national quest to effectively and efficiently deal with the present unfolding and future acts of terror, requires a holistic re-organization but within a frame work of a “DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ”

Stating points in the re-organization of N.E.M.A, are the following:

(1)   Immediate holistic transformation and strengthening of its capacity to swiftly meet both unpredictable natural and unnatural (man made) disasters such as terrorist attacks and its consequences.

(a)    Manpower enlargement, and training both Locally and overseas.

(b)    Supply of necessary equipment and gadgets such as Earth moving equipment, sensors, sniffer dogs, searchlights, axes, shovels, night vision goggles,  helicopters,  hand gloves,  head gears, binoculars, computers, heavy and light vehicles, ambulances, wheel chairs, tents, blankets,   medicines,   first  aid   kits,   welding   machines  and   other’ (various) assortments, of materials both technological and otherwise.

(c)     Establishment of a specialized communication network for the home land security department of which those of N.E.M.A. as an integral part will be an annex to

(d)    Specialized composition and orientation of N.E.M.A staff as a rapid, response and emergency crises intervention outfit.

(e)    Constant simulation of events and gaming exercises, so that the trained   and   composed   N.E.M.A.   team   can   be  adequately   and consistently stimulated not only to work together as a   team but to swiftly   perform   to   meet   challenges   which   conditions   closely approximate those of actual events, either natural or man induced.

(f)      Pre-emergency planning and delegation of responsibilities for swift response and overall achievement of resounding success in damage limitation as it affects human and material losses.

(g)    Establishments  of  a   specialized   transportation   mode  and   pre-emergency designated routes: This is imperative to timely and rapidly ferry or evacuate the injured to hospitals and treatment centers, as well  as  to  transport those  immediately  at  risk  in  situations  of coordinated terrorists attacks where there are high probabilities of both “direct and “collateral” damages.

Predictably, the Boko Haram attacks which have every semblance of fundamentalist Islamic colouration may escalate rather than abate and may spine off a reactionary or corresponding revenge attacks either by fundamentalist Christian groups in the south or by existing tribal or ethnic based terrorist outfits also in the south in sympathy with the slaughtered victims of this human carnage. Of course, those pockets of Christians either up north or dominant in the middle belt areas may equally take up arms either in defense of their faith or, for outright self-determination, which ever way. Also, the Niger Delta region may reverberate with agitations of resources control and geographical autonomy while the pschologically cowed but not defeated easterners (Ndigbo), those apostles of Oduwa Peoples Congress, Egbesu boys and others may initiate similar actions. Equally threatening to the unity and security of this (British) contraption called “NIGERIA” is the unexplained reluctance of those at the helm of affairs of the Federal government of Nigeria to convocate a National sovereign conference, it is therefore imperative to strengthen “N.E.M.A’s preparedness to meet or grapple with a very “HIGHER-ORDER” acts of terrorism as the most likely consequence, giving the unfolding developments in the Northern part of Nigeria.

This state of National crises or emergency preparedness is critical, more so / when it is realized that preservation of human lives is paramount in every incident  and consequence management effort.

It is this all important N.E.M.A’5 primary objective to save and preserve precious human lives that make RESTORATION, a critical and indispensable component of the act of consequence management. Restoration, as the name is involves all the attempts or efforts aimed at putting back victims of a terrorists attack to their pre attacks state. More appropriately, it is a deliberate or none deliberate action taken by a victim government to restore not only its affected citizens to their original state of wellbeing but, the breached situation to its original state of normalcy, stability and peace.

Since it is a known fact that terrorists in their chosen undertaking of indulgence in zero – sum – game, quantify their success by both the magnitude or degree of loses (human and materials) inflicted on a victim government, the management consequence act of RESTORATION must, (like other components as prevention, control and containment) be adequately pre-planned, & rehearsed in situations approximating a real life incidence.

Restoration, amongst other benefits, is primarily aimed at damage limitation or ceasing the damage and destruction initiative from the terrorist. At this juncture, it is necessary to remind ourselves that terrorism is a war without boarders hence it is necessary for Nigeria as a Nation to be part of any international frame work or collaboration to fight this deadly scourge. This level of cooperation is imperative and indispensable if any degree of success is to be achieved in managing any terrorist induced crises in our national context.

In the aftermath of a nationally disruptive HIGHER-ORDER-ACTS OF TERRORISM, the Restoration intervention of the International community is highly indispensable, and critical if we must deny the terrorist group its short and long term objective both strategically and tactically.

In a situation of an on-going terrorist action, depending on the nature, N.E.M.A, should swiftly initiate its pre-planned damage limitation or aftermath soothing effort by way of a well articulated consequence management programme or policy.

While the security agencies are making desperate efforts to contain and control the situation through localization of the foci of the attack and monopoly of information, N.E.M.A. should be making efforts to evacuate the victims to either established field hospitals for first aids or hospitals, as wells as others likely to be affected by collateral damages.

Already aware of the environmental data and local knowledge of the affected area, emergency tent shelters could be erected to possibly house the out flow of victims dispersing, or escaping the affected “foci” or area. Likewise provision of essential assistance could be mobilized in such re-settlement centers timely and swiftly. All these actions are critical in determining the successful management of any terrorist induced emergency insecurity situation.

Finally, strengthening of ‘NEMA’, capacity building wise, is of dual benefit and cost saving economically. Certainly, there will be no duplication in purchase of equipment and gadgets to meet natural disaster consequences, since the same materials procured in strengthening “N.E.M.A” for present and future terrorists or man-induced disasters will serve dual purposes or meet similar challenges. Certainly preparing for foreseen and unforeseen challenges is one of the best ways to handle National security problems in this contemporary world.

Chief E. E. Durueke Esq,08035526868 is Solicitor and Advocate, Political Scientist, Criminologist/Security expert based in Owerri.



About the author

Christian Voice