The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has established and operationalised Emergency Communication Centres (ECC) across 18 States of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), as a measure towards tackling the emerging security challenges.
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Engr. Umar Garba Danbatta, at the Maiden Security and Emergency Management Awards (SAEMA) in Abuja.
Mr Danbatta disclosed this while delivering his keynote speech on: ‘Leveraging on Emergency Communication Centre for National Security’, which he said provided the commission the opportunity to speak on one of its initiatives/efforts in ensuring a safer and secure Nigeria.
According to the NCC Boss, the commission embarked on the construction and operationalization of the ECCs across the country to provide a universal, toll-free emergency telephone short code (112) for use by members of the public in Nigeria to seek for help in times of distress/emergency.
Other reasons include: “To provide a one-stop shop for receiving distress calls from the public and dispatching same to appropriate Response Agencies (“First Responders”) who will respond to the need of the callers.
“To provide easy, effective and coordinated access by members of the public to Response Agencies (Police, FRSC, Fire Service, Ambulance Service etc.) in times of emergency/distress.”
Mr Danbatta, who bagged Goodwill Ambassador on Crisis Communication at the event, said that there are only three numbers to remember in an emergency 1-1-2, which he noted, eliminates the need to determine which emergency agency to call.
To this end, he said that the commission has already fully activated and operationalized ECC in the following 18 States: FCT, Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Anambra and Adamawa.
Represented by Chukwuma Azikiwe, head of ECC, Mr Danbatta said: “There is no gainsaying that the discourse on security situation is a topical issue and of national concern, which every citizen of this country is conscious of, as its affects our well‐being and tranquillity.
“In the year 2005, the then Honourable Minister of Communication set up a committee drawn from relevant key stakeholders (Public and Private Sectors) to develop a framework to facilitate the establishment of a well-coordinated nationwide public protection and disaster relief communication system for the country.”
He recalled that on September 23, 2019, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Ali Isa Ibrahim (Pantami), commissioned the National Emergency Toll-Free number “112” and the Katsina State Emergency Communication Centre, representing the North West Zone.
Likewise, Mr Danbatta said, necessary preparations and arrangements are being put in place to ensure the successful commissioning of other centres as well embarking a comprehensive publicity campaign on the usage of the emergency centres across the country.
He went further to list the positive impacts of the operationalization of the ECC in ensuring safety, security of lives/properties and the associated socio-economic benefits recorded so far cannot be overemphasized.
He stressed that in line with an item of the 8-Point Agenda unveiled in 2016 through Facilitating Strategic Collaboration and Partnership, NCC is currently embarking on some collaborative efforts with relevant agencies to: Ensure effective and efficient management of the ECC and service delivery; and Facilitate and ensuring adoption/usage and publicity of the 112 by the public and response agencies.
Reacting to this development, the Executive Secretary of the Centre for Crisis Communications (CCC), Yusuf Anas , considered it as heart-lifting, the report that the NCC is establishing Emergency Centres across the states.
Mr Anas assured that CCC is willing, able and ready to partner with NCC to ensure that the Emergency Centres function effectively.
“With our pool of experts in crisis communication and media management, we are sure to compliment the effort of NCC in this regard,” he said.
In the same vein, the Chairman, Panel of Jury for SAEMA 2019, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Mohammed Audu-Bida, commended the interest that the NCC is showing and giant stride it is making in the management of crisis communication.
Audu-Bida who was represented by Mohammed Shuwa, said the decision to establish Emergency Communication Centres across the 36 states of the federation by NCC is not only timely but very strategic given the imperative of communication in emergency or crisis management.
“Establishment of Emergency Communication Centres is one project that has always been dear to my heart. As the DG of NEMA I conceptualized the idea of having emergency communication centres in the country and in fact…
“I will urge the EVC of NCC to go all the the way in making sure that these centres function effectively as it will complement the efforts of the security and response agencies. Now that NCC has put up the facilities, it should seek the partnership of experts and professional crisis managers to give life to the centres.”
He urged the NCC to explore the possibilities of partnering with CCC to give Nigerians a very effective emergency communication centres.
On the awards, Audu-Bida congratulated all the nominees and winners, noting that the whole idea is to spur them to even more dedication and commitment to the service to fatherland.
To those who did not win in this particular edition, he expressed belief that they still stand more chances of winning in subsequent editions, adding “all you need to do is to keep up the good work”.
There were 18 winners from the 54 finalists who all received Certificate of Excellence with Nigerian Army, Police and Air Force topping the winner’s table.
The Award Categories include: Humanitarian Services, Crime-Fighting, Emergency Journalism, Cybercrime Prevention, Gallantry, Law Enforcement, Intelligence Service, Emergency Management, Corporate Social Responsibility, Public Information, Training Institute, Community Service, Volunteer Group, Civil-Military Relations, Crisis Manager, Private Security, Military and security officers of the year.