By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said information and communications technology (ICT) has the potential to curb insecurity in the country, including emergencies of any degree.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who said this, noted that Nigeria must leverage and appropriately deploy telecoms and ICT resources in the fight against insurgency and to contain other emergencies. He pointed out that empirical knowledge of what ICTs could do in tackling numerous challenges, has already explained the Commission’s insistence on compliance by all stakeholders to the guidelines governing SIM registration, and why NCC had been upbeat in getting the Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) ready all over the country as directed by the Federal Government.
Danbatta, stated this at the NCC Head Office in Abuja, during the induction of the Commission to the membership of Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA).
The Principal Manager at the Commission’s Special Duties Department, Bassey Uket, represented NCC at the forum.
Danbatta, therefore called for the collaboration between NCC and the security agents and other emergency response agencies, and suggested that many of the country’s multi-faceted challenges could be addressed by scaling up the degree of deployment of electronic strategies.
To underscore the imperative of electronic and digital communication systems in managing the nation’s security challenges, Danbatta stated that “as we are addressing the situation in one part of the country, you find escalation in another part of the country.”
He gave example of the 112 Emergency Communication Numbers, which are routed to the ECCs, as, “a practical implementation of a security system that is bringing succour to citizens in distress.”
The NCC Chief Executive added that he was gratified that there was an increasing, “interface between citizens who are in distressed security situation and virtually all security and other emergency response agencies connected to it”.
He described the ECC centres as a well-conceived projects.
“It is a project that has enhanced the capacity of agencies in the security governance sector to manage crises,” he added.
He, therefore, informed the audience that the centres were well-equipped to address the purpose for which they were established.
He said 18 of the centres, which are located in state capitals, have been completed and he assured Nigerians of NCC’s continued investments with the support of the federal government.
He emphasised that the ECCs have become a success story today because of the commitment of the federal government and the culture of dedication to continuity of strategic national projects by successive leadership of the Commission.
The Director, Special Duties at NCC, Oluwatoyin Asaju, said FOSSRA, which was established six years ago by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), has performed well in coordinating public information activities of security and emergency response agencies and has helped to improve inter-agency collaboration. He said the induction of NCC into the forum is a testimony to the Commission’s strides in this regard and also the visionary leadership of Danbatta. He recalled the nature of operation and kind of facilities at the ECCs and urged Nigerians to use the Toll-Free 3-Digit Emergency Communication Numbers 112 to get help in times of security challenges.
The Director, Defence Information and Chairman of FOSSRA, Brigadier Onyema Nwachukwu, told the participants at the meeting that crisis were not peculiar to Nigeria and the present escalating trend speaks to emergent global culture where non-state actors resort to violence to express grievances. He said agencies in the security sector were working all-round-the-clock to improve the nation’s security situation.
The Executive Secretary of Crisis Communication Centre (CCC), Air Commodore Yusuf Anas (rtd), also spoke about the efforts of FOSSRA in rallying information and communication stakeholders to ensure appropriate crisis communication management.