FEMA Director-General Bows Out, Reels Out Achievements

By: Nkechi Isa

Dr. Abbas Garba Idriss has announced his resignation as the Director-General of the FCT Emergency Management Agency FEMA.

Idriss, who made the announcement today at the 22nd management meeting of FEMA, described the meeting as the last for him.

Idriss expressed his gratitude to God for seeing him through this journey since the creation of FEMA in 2013.

“As the pioneer Director-General, I ensured that management and staff were able to nurse the baby Agency from inception in 2013 to one of the best (if not the best) among its peers in Nigeria through sheer determination, uncommon vision and a strong will to succeed amidst multi-faceted challenges common to newly established organizations, which in most cases, often result to their ‘death on arrival,” he said.

“As Director-General, I ensured that the Agency shortly after its creation, was able to pass its baptism of fire, when bomb blasts rocked the Federal Capital Territory and ravaging floods were the order of the day- through a carefully coordinated approach, based on robust stakeholders engagement and synergy that leverages on the preventive and response capacities of partners to obtain maximum results in managing disasters in the Federal Capital Territory”, he added.

According to him, disaster response under his watch saw FEMA, achieving the five (5) minutes emergency response time for fire and other incidents within the city center to save lives and property.

Reeling milestones during his tenure, Idriss said,
“within this period, we have been able to build a network of over 10,000 Volunteers, Community Vanguard and Disaster Marshals across the Six (6) Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory and train them year in, year out to improve their capacities as first responders to emergencies in their respective communities”.

“This is as part of our conviction that it is better to prevent disaster or mitigate their impact rather than giving our relief assistance to affected persons”, he said.

Idriss remarked that FEMA during his tenure created a high level of awareness among FCT residents on a number of emergency management issues, especially the need to avoid acts that increase the people’s vulnerability to disaster risk.

He further said that his tenure saw FEMA’ s active involvement in conflict management in FCT communities, including mediation between herdsmen and Farmers.

“FEMA also established and trained Local Divers to serve as first responders in flood mitigation and rescue operations, together with Town criers as agents of sensitization in the communities,” he emphasized.

While revealing that the Agency also successfully carried out Hazard Mapping and Vulnerability Assessment of the Federal Capital Territory and documented it to ease stakeholders responsibility in tackling each risk related to their mandate, Idriss disclosed that FEMA created a functional website and continues to update it to keep the public abreast of its activities.

He further said that FEMA created social media handles and deploy them to its best advantage to inform the public about issues of emergency and also counter falsehood or rumours capable of misinforming or creating public panic.

The Agency also undertakes continuous sensitization of communities across the Six (6) Area Councils on flood (and other risks) prevention, response and mitigation, he further said.

Accordingly, FEMA holds regular engagement meetings with all levels of emergency stakeholders from those in government SDAs/MDAs, INGOs, NGOs and Stakeholders at the community level including traditional and religious leaders, volunteers, local divers, town criers, disaster marshals, etc to strengthen its partnership and synergy towards effective disaster risk reduction and disaster response in the FCT, he also stressed.

As FEMA expanded its stakeholder’s base to include Universities who are centres of research and problem-solving, as new risks evolve including the Earth tremors recorded in parts of the Federal Capital three years ago, the out-going DG recalled that FEMA usually advise the FCT Administration through recommendations and suggestions as part of its contribution in fashioning policies and programmes bordering on public safety in the Federal Capital Territory.

“For me, today marks the beginning of a new and very important chapter in my life. My heart will always be with FEMA and I am ready at any time to offer advice that will keep the flag of FEMA flying,” he buttressed.