The executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, has said the commission’s emergency communications centres (ECC) processed about 34 million calls bordering on security and emergency issues within the first eight months of the year.
Danbatta made this disclosure while delivering a goodwill message at the 17th edition of the All Nigerian Editors’ Conference with the theme “Media in Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus”, in Abuja.
He said the ECCs, 24 of which are currently operational in 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, have become a rallying point for the promotion of the security of lives and property of citizens.
Speaking at the conference, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the EVC noted that, historically, the media have always been an advocate for values that are ennobling, edifying and unifying. He urged media professionals to continue to play their watchdog role professionally and ethically as a rallying point for unity and security in the country.
According to him, accurate, unbiased reporting of national issues, especially those bordering on conflict and security, would promote economic development, fight corruption and, ultimately, improve the security of lives and property in the country.
Danbatta, however, stated that the NCC is contributing to improving national security in the country through the establishment of ECCs, which offer a lifeline to citizens in times of distress. The EVC revealed that there are 23 states in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with functional ECCs and the centres have continued to have a profound positive impact on the lives of Nigerians.
“In addition to the 23 already established and functioning ECCs, the Commission will soon activate ECCs in nine more states and also plan to inaugurate a similar project in the remaining four states by the end of 2022, in keeping with Federal Government’s directive,” he said.
The EVC noted that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in Nigeria, over 1,500 calls connected to COVID-19-related incidents have been received and processed by the centres.
“The centres provided a platform for members of the public to seek life-saving information and support with regards to COVID-19 related cases by dialling ‘112’ from any of the networks. More remarkably, Nigerians have become more aware of and are using the 122 Emergency Number. Between January and August 2021, about 34 million calls were made by Nigerians seeking succour during emergencies within their communities,” he added.
Just recently, the Senate, Nigeria’s national upper legislative chamber, passed a bill to establish the Nationwide Emergency Communications Service, with 112 as the primary toll-free emergency number for the country, in recognition of the importance of NCC’s emergency centre projects to national security and economic growth.
A statement by the commission’s director of public affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said Danbatta reiterated the commission’s commitment to implementing various national digital economy policies and regulatory frameworks aimed at deepening digitization, to further democratise access to communication facilities by the citizenry.