by Alexander O. Onukwue
The National Emergency Management Agency threatened to embark on strike last week if some conditions of their service were not met.
This came even in the midst of the challenges of the floods that have ravaged 24 communities in Benue state, displacing over 100,000 persons. NEMA was directed to mobilize to the communities that were affected by the floods to provide them relief and it seems seven 30 ton trucks were deployed by the agency.
However, there is the possibility of a halt or interruption to the relief efforts which remain necessary as the dire after effects of the floods set in. 16 Local Governments are said to have been cut through by the flowing waters, which may have washed through farms, shops and other means of livelihoods. A strike by the official emergency intervention agency in the country is literally the last thing that will be expected at the moment.
Yet, it is not beyond the realm of possibility or reason. Should the Senior Civil Servants Association of NEMA should embark on the strike, they would only be joining the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the National Association of Resident Medical Doctors (NMARD). Both unions represent sectors of the country which are indispensable in the services they render in education and health respectively. Though not on the same level of constant relevance, a NEMA strike will be just as troubling for the country at this time.
Concerned individuals and various groups have, over the past week, been doing their bit to send relief to Benue state but those do not preclude a sustained and concerted intervention from NEMA which receives appropriation for such occurrences. That the agency’s workers will be legitimately unavailable to perform their duty due to their welfare dissatisfaction would not reflect well on the Government’s supposed care for the people of the country.
It perhaps represents a dysfunction in the Government’s handling of the matters involving the welfare of its most essential agencies. The absence of education and healthcare services should ordinarily connote a state of emergency; now that the emergency agency has also withdrawn its services, it appears to be going from the frying pan to the fire.