Dr. John Bazia, Commissioner for Special Duties, Rivers State

(By Iheanyi Ezinwo)-In what appears like a timely response to demands for the establishment of an agency responsible for the management of emergencies and disasters in the state, the Rivers State Ministry of Special Duties has began moves to come up with a law establishing the Rivers State Emergency Management Agency, just like the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, at the centre.

This disclosure was made by the new Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. John Bazia, in an interview with Notable Outcome in his office in Port Harcourt, on Tuesday. He said the Emergency Management Law is one of the priorities of his ministry, and that, as soon as the bill is ready, it will be presented to the State Executive Council for approval and later sent to the Rivers State House of Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

Hon. Bazia hinted that there will be a statutory body that will be responsible when it comes to emergencies and disaster management in the state, and that they are also looking at the possibility of establishing an institution for the training of unemployed young people to become fire fighters, a specialist training , according to him, that can make them to become exceptional and helpful in saving lives and properties when disaster happens.

“Apart from Lagos where fire service men are trained , there is no other place in Nigeria where similar training takes place. It will hopefully be a revenue generating institution because it will serve virtually all the states in the south south, and may be the south east”.

Responding to a question, the Tai- born politician and former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly had explained that his ministry has under it the Fire Service and is also responsible for everything that has to do with emergencies and disaster management in the state.

“We try as much as we can to help when there is natural disaster. We have a response team, those who are trained for emergency. And we also coordinate the activities of government and liaise with corporate bodies that would want to help the needy in cases of emergency. We to ensure that aids, relief materials and all that get to those for who need them”, Bazia said.

On the recent flood challenge in the state, the commissioner said the ministry of special duties was doing well, and certain things have been put in place before his assumption of duty.

“His Excellency has also directed that the local government areas should ensure that there is a smooth operation regarding the relief materials that were coming from the government, Non Governmental Organizations and from corporate citizens from with in and outside the state.

“All we do is to ensure that all these activities are coordinated. We have our men on the ground.We also laiase with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to ensure safety of lives and properties in times of disasters and emergencies”, he summed