All over the world the Armed Forces play vital role in disaster management effort. This is because by training, the Military is imbued with special skills and competency that aid better search and rescue operations and management of other humanitarian crisis. In addition, the military is the most highly equipped and sophisticated agency of Government with Air Force helicopters and Naval gunboats capabilities that could be used for airlifting casualties and delivering of relief materials to victims of disasters. The role played by the military during the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in which over 250,000 people lost their lives is a case at hand.
Like other continents, Africa is prone to natural and man made disaster. The most common natural disasters in Africa are: floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and plane crashes. Man made disasters include: hostilities between countries, civil wars, ethno – religious crisis and politico-economic crisis. As human beings, we cannot prevent disasters especially, natural occurrences, we can mitigate the effect of such disasters through prompt response and proper management.
In Nigeria, though we have a leading agency designated National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that coordinates all emergency response efforts, the Armed Forces is always the first point of call any time there is disaster. For instance, during the Sosoliso and Belview plane crashes and the Nigerian Air Force Donia 227 Transport Aircraft crash of 2006, at Obudu Cross River State which claimed the lives of the immediate past Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, the former Post-Master- General of the Federation, Alhaji Abubakar Musa Argungu and eleven serving Generals of the Armed Forces, the military was the first to respond.
In view of the important role being played by members of the Armed Forces and the challenges faced in disaster management efforts in Africa, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, deemed it fit to undertake a study of disaster management efforts and challenges. This informed the choice of this year’s Africa Study Tour Theme, “Challenges of Disaster Management to the Armed Forces in contemporary African society”.
In pursuance of this mandate, students of Senior Course 33/2011 were tasked to undertake geo - political study tour of some selected African Countries and present original research work in tri – service syndicates. The purpose, among others was to acquaint students with the correct perspective of the history, geopolitical survey and clearer definition of the selected countries in line with the theme of the tour. It also afforded them the opportunity to proffer workable solutions to the identified problem through the integrated efforts in the selected African countries and draw lessons for Nigerian Armed Forces.
The students who were broken into 10 syndicates visited 10 countries which included: Angola, Benin Republic, Cameron, Ethiopia and Ghana. Others were: Lesotho, Niger Republic, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa. During the closing ceremony of Africa study Tour 2011 which was marked by the syndicates’ presentations, the Commandant, Air vice Marshal Ahmed Tijjani Muazu who was represented by his Deputy Admiral Godwin Edmond Okoi, urged the students to consolidate on the gains of the exercise and justify the huge resources the college had committed. The representative of the Commandant, who also doubles as AFCSC Director of Studies noted that the students’ efforts were not in vain as the outcome of their research work will be useful to the academia and contribute to the existing body of knowledge.
Rear Admiral Okoi used the occasion to congratulate syndicate 7 who visited Niger Republic for coming first in order of merit and syndicates 2 and 4, the 1st and 2nd runners-up respectively. He also thanked all who contributed in making the exercise a huge success. Highlight of the occasion was the presentation of prizes and honorarium to students and Directing Staff.