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NEMA Success story and echoes of triumph from abroad

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In recent times, there has been an avalanche of criticism on the activities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) concerning its Director General, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja. While some see him as a misfit, some also saw him as that thoroughbred professional whose experience which he has brought to bear in the running of NEMA since he was appointed in 2017.

Members of a rescue team gathering personal belongings from victims of a Dana Air plane crash, which occurred on June 4th, at the site of the crash in the densely populated Toyin Area of Iju Ishaga in Lagos. Nigerian aviation authorities have suspended Dana Air’s licence after a flight operated by the commercial passenger carrier crashed in Lagos, killing at least 159 people, a spokesman said on June 5. AFP PHOTO

I subscribe to school of thought that have risen above sentiments to acknowledge that NEMA in the past two year has seen some tremendous improvements in its activities. And guess what? This much was corroborated recently with the Humanitarian Icon of the Year award conferred on Engr. Mustapha Maihaja by the TheNigerian News in the United Kingdom.

While this might seem ordinary in the eyes of some, to other critical stakeholders and me, it is indeed a testament to the result of hard work, purposefulness, dedication and a high sense of commitment to duty and fatherland.  I say this for the apparent reason that NEMA as an agency plays a critical and vital role in the contemporary Nigerian society.

As a start, NEMA is not just an agency. NEMA is an attitude aimed at the common good of Nigerians. Why you might want to ask. I say this because of four reasons; NEMA is configured to avert disasters, it undertakes rescue operations, it provides relief measures and materials and conducts rehabilitation programmes. You might want to agree with me that these four components are critical for the survival of any country or society.

Now, back to the crux of this piece. I had to give a background to enable us to comprehend in full, why this award that was bestowed on the DG of NEMA is of exceeding joy to me. It is one thing to be able to read, and it is another thing to be able to read and comprehend. This analogy of reading and understanding is how I describe the commitment and dedication of Engr. Mustapha Maihaja to his work as the DG of NEMA.

The organizers of the awards corroborated this much. Hear them “Because of your numerous achievements at NEMA in the past two years, we are proud to honour you with the Humanitarian Icon of the year. Your obligations and duties to the most vulnerable population are indeed commendable and worthy of emulation by all and sundry.”

The above is not only commendable; it is also a justification for Engr. Mustapha Maihaja from all the litany of allegations levelled against him since he assumed leadership of NEMA. Even though we were aware that most of those agitations and protests were politically motivated by some of those who realized that a new Sherriff is in town and it was not going to be business as usual and also to those who saw how his profile continues rising on a daily basis owing to his work ethics. Despite all the distractions, he was undeterred. He was unperturbed and carried on his duties with so much vigour. And this attitude has indeed paid off with the recognition by a reliable platform such as TheNigerian News.

One of the strong points of Engr. Mustapha Maihaja’s stewardship is his penchant for doing the right thing. Those close to him would readily attest to this fact. He is also not one that suffers fools gladly. He hates workplace procrastination. This position of his might explains in a way why some members of staff availed themselves as willing tools in the attempt to distract him by some unscrupulous elements who have fed fat from the system in times past. I am sure these members of staff have nothing but regrets now as it stands.

Having stated the above, it is also instructive to highlight that the appointment of Engr. Mustapha Maihaja as the DG of NEMA by President Muhammdu Buhari was indeed timely and well intended because of the critical role of NEMA as I highlighted earlier and also an attempt to sanitize that important sector from years of abuse and mismanagement. And this much he has strived to do despite the ferocious opposition and resistance that were put up by some for selfish reasons and pecuniary gains, and at the detriment of national interest.

He is indeed a hero and what the world may still need to know about him is his strong character and uncommon devotion to humanity. This much he has exhibited and continued to do in the rendering of his invaluable services to his fatherland.

At a recent forum, he was also described as a man that matches words with action. It was stated that upon resumption at NEMA, he hit the ground running. Some say he came prepared for the job. Some also say his grasps of issues as it concerns the core objectives of NEMA are phenomenal. While all of these have been told and he has so been honoured. I am of the advice that he should not relent in his efforts as there is a tendency for public officials to be carried away by their exploits in office.

While this might not be the case in Engr. Mustapha Maihaja, it is only hoped that he continues in this tradition of excellence in the interest of country and humanity.

By Robert Audu

Audu is a civil servant at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and can be reached at

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