The telecoms regulator says that 34 million emergency calls were routed through 24 Emergency Communications Centres (ECCs) across Nigeria between January and August this year.
So far 24 ECCs have been set up in 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory have become hubs for promoting the safety of lives and properties, Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) told attendees at the 17th edition of the All Nigerian Editors’ Conference held this week Abuja in the theme “Media in Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus.”
COVID-19 related emergency calls accounted for over 1500 calls processed via the ECCs in the wake of the global virus pandemic that also hit Nigeria, according to the NCC chief.
Emergency Communications Centres: Beyond Emergency Calls
“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 dialing ‘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, who were seeking succor during emergencies or under other security threats and unrest within their communities,” Danbatta tells the forum.
According to him, with the ECCs, NCC is contributing to improving national security in the country through their establishment to offer lifelines to citizens in times of distress.
The ECCs, which he says are functional in 23 States FCT “have continued to have profound positive impact on the lives of Nigerians.”
Danbatta says that “in addition to the 23 already established and functioning ECCs, the Commission will soon activate ECCs in nine (9) more states, and also plan to inaugurate similar project in the remaining four (4) states by end of 2022, in keeping with Federal Government’s directive.”
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, according to the telecoms regulator.
Speaking at the conference, organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors, the EVC says that historically, the media have always been in the vanguard of advocacy for values that are ennobling, edifying, and unifying.
Hence, he wants the 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 Danbatta, accurate, unbiased reporting of national issues, especially those bordering on conflict and security matters, would promote economic development, fight corruption, and ultimately improve the security of lives and property in the country.
In a related development, the NCC in June announced that the legislative steps that have been taken to give legal backing to the emergency scheme ensure a more effective, uniform, and better coordinated national emergency number 112 that is similar to the 999 emergency number in the United Kingdom and 911 in the United States.
The scheme, which establishes the Nationwide Toll-Free Number as a primary emergency number and contact point for all emergency services in Nigeria, harmonizes the various emergency numbers in the country into one uniform number and empowers the telecoms regulator to supervise and ensure compliance.
It makes the 112 the Emergency Number of Nigeria for citizens to have access to quick and timely response in respect for emergency situations like road accidents, fire outbreaks, burglary, and medical emergencies, among others