Lagos - The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Monday tagged the year 2012 as a year of disaster.
The South-West Coordinator of the agency, Mr Iyiola Akande, made the assessment in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
``We have witnessed a number of disasters this past year. You will recollect vividly that the flood that ravaged about 32 states of the federation is still fresh in our memory for this past year.
``It was of such magnitude that it attracted presidential attention and in fact international attention.
``And coming back home specifically talking about South West, we have witnessed a lot of both avoidable and unavoidable disasters.
``Topmost among these ones are: the various building collapses, which we responded to; tanker fire accidents on our roads; road traffic accidents and of course fire disasters, starting from the banger, fire cracker explosion that occurred at Jankara market, which resulted in destruction of eight residential buildings, a number of cars, and unfortunately, one life was lost.’’
Akande said the agency would continue to ensure that its activities underscored the need for Nigerians to prepare for disasters, mitigate the effects of disasters, and train responders.
``Emergencies and disasters don’t give notice and as such, when you are not tackling one form of emergency or the other, you are engaged in preparedness activities; you are engaged in mitigation activities such that disasters don’t occur – that is, those that can be prevented; but for those that cannot be prevented, you want to ensure that the casualties and damage are limited.
``All these we do all year round and how do we do it? We do it through vigorous campaigns and sensitisation of members of the public, the stakeholders’ and of cause even within ourselves.
``We embark on training exercises on drills and simulation, in-house and with stakeholders such that when we are called upon to tackle any emergency we shall be found ready and we won’t be found pants down.”
Akande appealed to Nigerians to be careful in the way they handled fires.
``Fire is a two edged sward that can be used positively. You can use it to cook and to do other things, but if you mishandle fire, it can become destructive element to you.”
While advising people not to store petrol at home, the coordinator also cautioned against leaving electrical appliances switch-on when not at home or out of office.