Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, Wednesday, 26th November, 2014 commissioned the state Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Operational/Resettlement Camp at Igando with a call on residents to take interest in their personal safety at all times as a first and essential step to community and societal safety.
In his remarks at the LASU-Iyana-Iba Road location of the relief camp, Governor Fashola said although the occurrence of disasters was inevitable where more than two people live, the onus lies with the individuals to be safety conscious and to be interested in their own safety more than anyone else could be.
Urging all and sundry to be their brothers’ keepers, the Governor enjoined individuals who indulge in disaster prone activities to think of what consequence such acts could have on their communities adding that they should resist the temptation to engage in such acts.
Fashola advised, “Whatever temptation you may have, resist it, don’t store fuel in your home, such accidents can be very fatal, I want you alive because there is so much that I see that we should live for. That really is the sum and substance of why we are here”.
Governor Fashola, who acknowledged that disaster is a human existential phenomenon also cautioned non-experts in disaster management not to cluster at disaster scenes as such clusters hamper the experts from carrying out relief activities during disasters pointing out that the survival of disaster victims depend on how fast the rescue teams could get to them.
Fashola advised members of the media to be wary of invading disaster scenes in search of news pointing out that nothing meaningful could be realized from such confusion when relief workers were still battling to rescue victims and put off fires or other sources of the disaster.
“What applies in other jurisdictions is that the press stay at a point away from the scene and after the rescue operations someone comes to address them and give them accurate figures of the dead and wounded”, the Governor said adding that failure to do this by news men in the country often results in giving conflicting figures of the dead and wounded by the various media.
Noting that in terms of disaster management, the state government’s capacity is getting better, the Governor declared, “LASEMA is doing very well. They have received support from NEMA and they must acknowledge that, they have received support from the Boys Scout and from the Red Cross.
“I will continue to appeal to Lagosians that these are experts who have been trained in disaster management. Now that we have the experts, let us leave the way for the experts. So I appeal to you whenever you have any situation in whatever community, once you have called the emergency numbers 112 or 767 as we have given you, leave the rest to us”.
Governor Fashola further said that, “We now have the capacity and we will then come with our ambulances, with our policemen, with our fire engines and with other emergency responders to cut through the thickest concretes recalling a recent incident where a victim of building collapse was rescued after three under the concrete rubble.
“That is the capacity that we have. If a building collapses, the building itself we can rebuild but when a life is lost it cannot be rebuilt. So how quickly we get to people in a disaster is important to their survival, whether their injuries could be treated and all that”.
The Governor said government also wants to increase the capacity of first responders pointing out that the young men and women that were given protective equipment earlier during the ceremony, were trained by the government across the local governments with 10 from each local government making a total of 570.
Appealing for more volunteers, the Governor declared, “We want to increase that capacity. So If you want to participate in life saving activities go and register in the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency. We will train you and equip you to join in the group.
“We just get better slowly but surely and certainly this is not our best, our best still lies ahead of us”.
On the Agbowa LASEMA Operational/Resettlement Camp, Governor Fashola, who noted that it is the second of such camps said the idea of building relief camps came to him early in the life of the administration as a result of heavy rains that flooded homes in parts of the city.
“What we have come to do here is very important in any community. No one prays for disasters. But when you have more than two people, conflicts will happen and that conflict and disasters is multiplied where you have over 21 million people”, he said adding that the propensity for disaster is further heightened by the existence of millions of connections of wire for electricity supply, gas pipelines in so many homes and people carrying fuel to their homes because they need electricity.
According to the Governor, aside the fact that the recipe for accident is there every day, nature also creates its own through windstorms, rainstorms, rise in water levels noting that although it is almost the end of November, it is still raining which indicate that Climate Change is real.
“Climate has changed and we must respond, we must adapt because we don’t yet know what it will bring. When I went to school the rains started in early June and ended in September but today in November it is still raining. So things have changed and we should stop pretending”, the Governor said.
Advocating adaptation and preparation as keys to safety, the Governor said they lay behind the idea of building the Igando Resettlement and Relief Camp adding, “We will continue to do our best as a government to prevent accidents from happening, to prevent disasters from happening; but in the history of human life disasters will happen”.
Reiterating that the thought of what to do when people are displaced motivated him and his colleagues to conceive the idea of a relief camp which was first built in Agbowa, the Governor added that it has come to the help of the Government from time to time, pointing out that this is where Government takes control, helping and saving people because, according to him, “It is their right because it is their government.
“That is why you stand in the sun to vote for us. That is why you stand in the rain to vote for us and that is why whenever you call us, whether it is raining or sun is shining , we are there for you. That is why when we make promises we must keep them”.
The Governor warned the people to be “very careful with those who come to you with vote-catching promises”.
Asserting that his administration has kept all the promises it has made to the people, Governor Fashola said when government built Agbowa it had to think of so many facilities to put their including schools and other things to make life comfortable for settlers adding that it was an extension of their lives.
Wishing the people a happy and disaster free Christmas festivities, Governor Fashola declared, “But from there we are getting better, we have got Igando and we will get better in the location where we cite the third one in the Lagos Central Senatorial District. It is a house we hope we will never use for disasters”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed said the government has established the command and control centre as well as the 112 and 767 emergency numbers which according to him serves as portals through which members of the public could reach government in times of disaster.
According to the Commissioner, when government gets to know the next is prompt action which often makes the difference between life and death adding that as a way of improving emergency response time the Governor has approved the setting up of local emergency management committees, a standby body of 10 men and women from each local government and local council development areas.
The 570 of them, the Commissioner said, have received basic training in search and rescue operations, crowd control and so on adding that they could assist take control of site of incidents before the government teams get there.
Aside the cutting of the tape to declare the resettlement camp open, another highlight of the occasion was the handing over of protective equipment to members of the local emergency management committees by the Governor.
Also present at the occasion were the General Manager/CEO Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Osanyintolu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Special Duties, Dr. Aderemi Desalu; and the Onigando of Igando, Oba Lasisi Gbadamosi, among other dignitaries and top government functionaries.