By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator has said the 122 National Emergency Number will continue to provide succour to Nigerians in the nation’s collective efforts to fight the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, also known COVID-19.
NCC, in a statement issued at the weekend, said Nigerians were able to call emergency response agencies/or first responders with respect to any issue they may want to report on the Coronavirus or other health-related issues and emergencies.
The statement, which was signed by the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Henry Nkemadu, added: “Already, states and federal government agencies are leveraging the 112 National Emergency Number, whose calls are handled through the Emergency Communication Centre (ECC) established by the Commission across the country.”
The ECC project is the brainchild of NCC to enable easy communication by Nigerians with emergency first responders such as Police, Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, National Orientation Agency (NOA) among others, by dialing the three-digit toll-free number 112.
“On assuming office as the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC in 2015, Prof. Umar Danbatta, quickly put machinery in place to accelerate the implementation of ECC across the country in line with the decision of the Nigerian government to enhance security of lives and property and as mandated by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003,” the statement added.
According to Nkemadu, the NCC fast-tracked the execution of the emergency project, whose implementation had hitherto been dragging, in recognition of its mandates to promote and enhance public safety through the use of a particular number, which shall be designed as the universal safety and emergency assistance number for telephone services generally.
He said so far, the ECCs with their operational 112 toll-free emergency number, have been implemented in 17 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Aside FCT, beneficiary states of the ECC include: Benue, Kwara, Plateau, Kaduna , Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Imo, Enugu, Anambra and Adamawa.
THISDAY gathered that efforts were being made by the Commission to deploy the ECC facility in other states of the federation.
Today, the 112 National Emergency Number is fully available in all the aforementioned states and FCT and can be leveraged by Nigerians, as an alternate number to reach first responders at this period of COVID-19 when seeking help and assistance from applicable government response agency during emergencies.
According to Nkemadu, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State had identified the centrality of the 112 number towards handling citizens’ calls for help in this time of Coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “Obaseki, in a recent state-wide broadcast to sensitise the people of the state on the epidemic, urged the people of Edo State to take advantage of 112 three-digit, toll-free number to get help from response agencies in case they want to pass critical information to the government and the State Task Force on COVID-19.”
President Muhammadu Buhari, had on March 19, 2020, unveiled the Abuja ECC facility and flagged off the 112 National Emergency Number during the commissioning of the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex at the Mbora District of Abuja.
The President explained that the 112 Number would demonstrate his administration’s resolve to keep Nigerians safe.