A Bill for an Act to amend the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Establishment Act has scaled through second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill, which seeks to include representatives of local government areas in State Emergency Management Committees, was sponsored by Rep. Joseph Edionwele (Edo-PDP).
Leading debate on the bill at plenary on Wednesday, Edionwele explained that the composition of state emergency management committee currently, excluded local government representatives.
He said that such situation had made it impossible for the body to efficiently and effectively discharge the functions prescribed for it under the law.
According to him, it is common knowledge that most disaster occurrences like erosion, flooding, fire outbreak, locust invasion, among others, do take place from time to time in rural areas.
The lawmaker also said that majority of population live in rural areas, which made the local governments closer to them than the state government.
He added that in terms of timely response to disaster and emergency in rural areas, the local government was in a better position to respond than either state or federal government.
“Inclusion of local governments in State Emergency Management Committee will also enhance grassroots participation in disaster management and curtailment operations,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Rep. Jagaba Adams said that he supported the bill because he believed local governments were vital.
“The only thing that should be removed is the word `chairmen’.
“It should be simply put as representative of local government and not necessarily chairmen, because some of the chairmen can be very busy.
“These representatives should be people that will have time to do the work well,’’ he said.
Also contributing, Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye (Lagos-APC) suggested that NEMA should play a supervisory role to the local and state governments.
“This is because whatever happens affects the people, so the local and state governments should meet with NEMA.
“The NEMA establishment Act states that members of the State Committee shall be persons of proven integrity.’’
The Bill was consequently referred to the Committee on Disaster Management and Preparedness for further legislative actions.