The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Engr Mustapha Maihaja has called for more concerted efforts in preventing the occurrences of natural and manmade disasters by locating and identifying potential emergency problems. He gave the call during the 8th Annual lecture of the School of Earth and Mineral Sciences, SEMS, with the theme “Prospects and Challenges of Geospatial Technology for Disaster Management in Nigeria” The Director General who was represented by a Deputy Director in NEMA, Hajia Fatima Kassim said that as potential emergency situations are identified, mitigation needs can be determined and prioritized. To this end he said that there should be regular awareness and sensitization workshops by relevant agencies at the national, state and local levels.
He said Nigerians suffer significantly from various types of disasters such as floods, landslides, tidal waves, coastal erosion, sand storms, locust/insect infestation, oil spillage and other manmade disasters which have claimed many lives and rendered many homeless. He called for the deployment of Geospatial Technology which is a technology relating to the collection or processing of data that is associated with location. He said since disasters are location specific, efforts at managing them must be located at community level. Engr Mustapha stated that mitigation of disasters can be successful only when detailed knowledge is obtained about the expected frequency, character and magnitude of hazardous events in an area. He said over the years mankind has benefitted from advances in geo spatial technology in diverse area s such as satellite communication, remote sensing and meteorology. The Director General said geospatial technology is indispensable for disaster mitigation work as information provided by satellite is critical for planning, preparedness, mitigation and appropriate response to disaster. He pointed out that people at risk from disasters whether natural or human in origin can take actions that saves lives, reduce losses, speed response and reduce human suffering when they receive accurate warnings on time. According to him space derived information can provide accurate and warning techniques as better sensors are deployed to measure key variables, employ better dynamic models and expand the understanding of the cause of disasters.
In his remarks , the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape, said that the theme of the lecture is not only profound but also coming at an auspicious time when Nigeria is faced with myriads of natural and manmade environmental disasters. He said disaster occurrence would be mitigated through employment of modern technology such as Geo-Spatial technology, which is a veritable tool that could be deployed to solve the myriads of problems facing mankind ranging from security to healthcare. Professor Fuwape said modern technology can help a great deal for predicting and forecasting natural disasters, which would avail the government and the people opportunity to prevent maximum damage to the community. The Vice Chancellor said FUTA will remain committed to the provision of cutting edge reseach and generation of ideas that will solve societal problems as has hitherto been demonstrated by both staff and students, in different areas of human endeavor through teaching, research and community development.
On his part the Dean, SEMS, Professor Pius Enikanselu said “this year’s lecture is richly couched to reflect the present realities of our dear nation” He said disaster cannot be completely eradicated but can be mitigated considerably, especially when equipped with the right technology, expertise and experience.
In his remarks the Special Guest of Honour, the commissioner of education science and technology Ondo state Pastor Olufemi Agagu represented by his Special Assistant, Pastor Yomi Akinrinmade said collaborative efforts between town and gown is required to reduce the occurrence of natural disasters. He called on Nigerians to desist from inimical acts such as indiscriminate disposal of waste which causes perennial flooding and other related disasters.
High point of the occasion was the presentation of awards to former leaders of the school, Professor John Adekoya and late Professor Lekan Folami; alumnus of the school, Mr. Akinsami Ojo, Mr. Newton Samagbeyi and Col Ahmed Yusuph; friends of the school; Pastor Olufemi Agagu and Princess Florence Ayoola-Egbeyemi.