The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) have indicated their preparedness to collaborate in finding new ways of reducing risks in times of national disasters.
NEMA says it seeks support and stronger collaboration with NITDA on the deployment of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and digital tools and platforms that will ensure timely and lifesaving search and rescue operations during national disasters.
The agencies opened discussions on their collaboration when the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, received the Director General of NEMA, Mustapha Habib Ahmad, in his office.
Abdullahi congratulated the Ahmad for his recent appointment, describing his task as onerous that requires sustained and strengthened partnerships for him to succeed in his duties due to its magnitude and impact on distress Nigerians.
Abdullahi mentioned that NITDA, as a government apex IT regulatory body, has the mandate of developing and regulating the use of ICT in Nigeria, and to deploy its expertise on virtually all aspects of human and operational endeavors that requires the application of digital technology which, NEMA is not an exception.
He described NEMA's operations as one that requires the application of modern technology, adding that "to work effectively and efficiently you need ICT, and technology can help you get insight and predict a disaster even before it happens".
He said modern technologies would in no small measure, position agencies like NEMA to always be on their toes ahead of any emerging situation easily, quickly, and conveniently as well as providing useful information that will make the agency take proactive measures.
Abdullahi assured NEMA of NITDA's unalloyed commitment to incorporate NEMA into its Digital Transformation Working Group (DTWG) to facilitate organising capacity building for its personnel, in order to have a full grasp of the process, when, where and how to deploy and apply the technology appropriately.
Director General of NEMA said the visit was to further intimate NITDA's management on his agency's statutory mandate and seek for collaborative support between the two agencies.
According to him, "NEMA's Act empowers it to manage human and natural disasters as well as support Nigerians in distress and mitigate the impact of such calamities, thereby building the culture of resilience on Nigerians. The country is faced with wide ranging disasters such as insurgent activities ravaging the North-east, communal conflicts, kidnappings and banditry, annual floods and most recently the COVID-19 global pandemic."
Ahmad said resources at the agency's disposal no doubt had been over stretched and could barely meet the various disaster challenges across the nation. He stated that they resolved to seek collaborative ties with stakeholders, which NITDA is critical to the realisation of mitigating disaster risk management in Nigeria being the country's apex IT regulator.
One of the areas that requires NITDA's intervention is to assist in making up NEMA's Zonal Territorial and Operational offices more effective, and to have real time and sudden onset disaster communication, video conferencing, collection of damage and loss assessment data, to enable timely lifesaving search and rescue operations as well as deployment of humanitarian support in the right time.
Considering the economic downtime, occasioned by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic, the NEMA Boss said it became imperative for their agency to further explore and sustain cost saving methods in their operations.