By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Journalists have been advised to as a sign of commitment, do more than just report disaster, but to do follow ups in knowing whether relief materials were properly distributed and if victims are adequately resettled.
This appeal was made by the owner of Developmental Post and former Director General on Media and Publicity to ex Kaduna State Governor, Dr. Mukhtar Ramallan Yero, Alhaji Ahmed Maiyaki, at a sensitisation workshop held for journalists on the role they ought to play when reporting disasters.
He was of the view that while journalism still remains a noble profession, it behoves on the practitioners to look beyond deadlines and find out ways they can help the relevant agencies in charge of disaster management and control by helping to educate and enlighten the citizens on the risks and dangers involved in not adhering to warnings.
“The major forms of disasters in Nigeria are flood, insurgency/farmers-herdsmen, drought etc. Journalists should collaborate with agencies like National and State Emergency Agencies, NEMA and SEMA, because they need the media to be able to do their work effectively.”
“NEMA gets 2 per cent of the ecological funds before it’s distributed and in some states SEMA hardly exists. For this reason this reason NEMA’s job is a hectic one.”
According to him, devastation globally gulps over 520 million dollars annually, millions of lives are lost, while over 26 million people are pushed to below poverty level. For this reasons the media is to help project the efforts of both the government and the stakeholders.
Maiyaki added that with the media involvement the collaboration should bring a paradigm shift as it should be proactive, fully integrated and holistic. Risk assessment, risk reduction, early warnings and disaster preparedness should bridge the gap between government and the citizens.
“Oftentimes, the only news people get from journalists is on the number of people who died or have been injured without mention to the efforts of government and the relevant agencies. The developed countries are quick to responding to disaster related cases because of the support they enjoy from the media,” he emphasized.
The former DG Media, when differentiating between natural disaster and human created, blamed floodings climate change, unplanned urbanization, poverty, inequality, poor land management and poor attitude to safety as major cases of devastation. He also asked for increased budgetary allocation for SEMA and the local government, synergy with collaborators and media coverage.
He congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari for increasing taxes of companies by 600 percent owing to gas emissions and reiterated that government still needed to do more. He urged citizens to heed warning calls change their attitude to safety practices.
In his opening address, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Comrade Adamu Yusuf, wants river Kaduna dredged to reduce floodings of properties around the river and called on NEMA and SEMA to work together.
“We need to work hand in hand in helping to reduce risk and disasters if we are to avoid the catarophe of 2012, when more than 386 people lost their lives in the country’s worst flooding disaster ever recorded in the country,” he added.
Represented by Hajia Halima Dauda Suleiman NEMA, explained its roles and wants the media to be of help.
“We’re not an environmental agency and as such shouldn’t be blamed for blocked drainages because of throwing of wastes in drainages, we are for emergencies and protection of lives and properties during disasters.”