By Olu Ajayi*
Engr. Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja
There are certain public offices in Nigeria, which are focal, sensitive and indispensable to the responsible functionality of Nigeria as a nation. The welfare of the citizenry is a cardinal principle of state enshrined in the Constitution, the supreme law of the land and every leader abides by it.
Those responsible for salvaging humanity from artificial or natural disasters, appear next to God in the eyes of hapless victims. Every smidgen counts; every morsel of food is important and the victims require everything, including assurances of overcoming their present afflictions. They want the affectionate care and love of someone, who can psychologically rebuild their broken and shattered souls.
That’s the glimpse of the onerous mandate of the agency, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), at the moment piloted by a tested and trusted humanitarian; a perceptive administrator, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja as the Director-General (DG).
He has been a victim, as one who personally experienced the despair, the hunger, depravation, pains and sorrows of his people and survivors of Boko Haram terrorism in his home state of Yobe, in the Northeast. That was the hey days of insurgency and the NEMA DG feels, he is wiping off the tears of his people, anywhere the call of duty beckons in Nigeria.
Maihaja’s mien and deportment on executing his job; the smartness in responding to the multifarious incidents of disasters in the country are indications of a leader who is not just bond by the dictates of his official responsibilities alone. But a leader imbued with innate compassion against those in trauma or debilitating predicaments.
Nigeria’s NEMA office demands a leadership which is naturally committed, conscientious, upright and with the fear of God. The current NEMA-DG, Engr. Maihaja and his team epitomize these qualities. It explains why, despite organized distractions from all angles, both from career politicians and his envious antagonists; it has not derailed his focus in the service of Nigerians in distress. He is delivering on his job marvelously.
And that’s the trademark of a leader guided by the shadows of God, as those who believe and trust God are never put to shame; as reflected in the Holy Scriptures; Romans 10: 11; which succinctly expresses that “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Armed with this unshakable tool, Engr. Mustapha has been steadily dismantling hardest of rocks. He is also breaking new grounds in his national assignments to the envy of his detractors. It is edifying to recount that a few months back, some dark forces attempted to imperil his attention on this noble job, by initiating a meaningless probe on the less than two years administration of Engr. Maihaja.
Unfortunately, whatever was cooked up against Maihaja had every ensnaring of blackmail, as evidenced by the House of Representatives Adhoc committee probe, led by Hon. Isa Ali. The committee unpretentiously and unapologetically sought to repress the EFCC ongoing probe of the alleged N2.5 billion contracts, procurements and supplies fraud in NEMA.
The fraud was perpetrated under the immediate past management of the agency led by Mr. Mohammed Sidi Sani and some six other directors, still in the employ of the agency and the FGN.
Not a few Nigerians believed the antics of the embattled former leadership and serving directors to dubiously divert attention to extricate themselves from the EFCC probe of the fraud involving such mindboggling sum of tax payers money.
The Reps committee has had all the time in the world to convict its target. But it seems lost in its own malicious folly, as they have been unable to cook anything against NEMA’s leadership by Engr. Maihaja.
The intention was to distract Maihaja from attending to the urgent humanitarian crises in sizeable proportions all over Nigeria, to label him of dereliction of duty. But he remained defiant, bowing more to the demands of his busy office, than some mischievous echoes of deceptive probes, from unusual sources, such as the Reps Committee.
Today, Maihaja and Nigerians are the winners. Unless, someone who has devoted keen interest in disasters in Nigeria, the enormity and severity would continue to elude minds bent on destruction of the agency. None is in doubt that the commonest afflictions of Nigeria now are humanitarian crises, which sprouts from either natural disasters like, violent clashes, flooding and fire disasters.
The spate of violence, arising from armed local conflicts, across the country, is their most deadly monster. It often and consistently leads to deaths, injured persons, destructions of properties and the displacements of thousands of Nigerians.
Since Maihaja took up the mantle of leadership in NEMA, such disasters have occurred in many states, which desperately beg for its attention and the eventual prompt reliefs to surviving victims. Nigeria within the period of Maihaja’s stewardship, apart from the severe humanitarian crises arising from the defeat of Boko Haram insurgency flaunts other severe humanitarian problems.
The country has contended with other emergent and magnifying forms of disasters. There have been uncountable communal violence among communities or tribes. It has led to displacements of people into camps in Southern Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Ebony, Kogi, FCT, Ekiti states and so forth.
The militancy in the Niger Delta states and it concomitant humanitarian crises also exalted a strain on the agency. In addition, flooding has also visited Nigerians like the latest incident in Katsina state, which killed about 50 persons and displaced over 100, 000 others. Flood has been the unwanted guests of Benue, Taraba, Enugu, Anambra, Gombe and others; while fire disasters have also extracted its share of anguish from Nigerians, like the most recent fuel tanker explosion fire in Lagos.
Satisfyingly, in spite of the multiplicity and frequency of these disasters, Engr. Maihaja has lived up to expectations by providing reliefs in food supplies, utility materials and counseling of victims. So, despite all the distractions for refusing to cheat the public, Maihaja has continued to triumph on eagle’s wings, breaking new grounds and delivering above the normal in the recent history of NEMA.
The NEMA –DG is not just walking the talk, but it is proactive in its engagement with Nigerians, by alerting on the possibility of natural disasters, like the repeated warnings it gave about the impending flooding of some states in the Southeast states. It advised state governments and people of the region to embark on massive de-silting of drainages. But its advice was ignored and the floods eventually came with the avoidable destructions.
NEMA still rushed to the rescue by providing immediate relief to victims to Enugu victims of flood. Nigerians can only appreciate the efforts of NEMA under Maihaja if they are acquainted with what the agency needs for year 2018 to manage the humanitarian crises in the Northeast region alone, much more its resurgence in other parts of Nigeria.
Yet, with its meagre annual budget, Maihaja’s team has been able to judiciously apply and manage the funds, by affecting every distressed community or persons in Nigeria.
Head of Communications, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA, Nigeria) Head of Communications, Samantha Newport, during a two-day dialogue with the media in Kano State with theme: “The Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead,” was emphatic that Nigeria needs a minimum $1bn in 2018 to rebuild the devastation in North-East Nigeria and to tackle immediate humanitarian relief demands of about 6.1 million victims of insurgency in the region.
Undoubtedly Engr. Maijaha has proven that good men are not easily swayed by circumstances; but rather bolstered by their conviction to change the world. He is really turning things around for good by striving day and night to uplift an afflicted humanity.
*Ajayi, a retired civil servant writes from Lokoja.