“Nigerians made 38 million emergency calls in 8 months”. This was made known by the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, at the 17th All Editors Conference in Abuja, yesterday.
Speaking on the theme: “Media in Times of Crisis: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus”, Prof. Danbatta, said the security of life and property is a prerequisite for progress in any society or nation. He added that Individual, both great and small, often encounter emergency situations that pose security threats at different times in life.
The 112 Emergency Number managed by Emergency Communication Centre established across the country, is geared towards contributing to efforts by government, the media and other stakeholders in addressing conflict situations or emergencies in Nigeria.
Danbatta added that it has become a common occurrence for innocent lives to be lost in minor emergencies which ordinarily could have been averted if help was timely available, adding that this is what obtains in developed societies with the ‘911’ service in the United States of America being one of the best-known examples of an emergency assistance number.
He said, “Consequently, the NCC embarked on the establishment of ECCs across the states to offer a lifeline to citizens in times of distress. The ECC provides a one-stop-shop through which members of the public can access help from any Emergency Response Agency (ERA) such as the Police, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Fire and Ambulance Services, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) and so on by dialing 112, which is Nigeria’s emergency assistance number, from any network.”
According to him, 23 states in the federation and the federal capital territory have functional ECCs each, adding that regulatory intervention has had highly profound positive impact on the lives of
He said, “In addition to the 23 already established and functioning ECCs, the Commission will soon activate ECCs in nine (9) more states, with an auspicious projection to inaugurate similar projects in the remaining four (4) states by ending of 2022, thereby having an ECC per state and in the FCT, in line with Federal Government’s directive.
“In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic crisis in Nigeria, over 1,500 calls bordering on COVID-19-related issue were received and processed by the Centres. The Centresprovided 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.
Prof Danbatta, further commended the media for being a vanguard of advocacy of values that are ennobling, edifying and unifying.
He said, “First, in the pre-colonial time, the media were clearly in the vanguard of the struggle for the nation’s independence. Not only were many of our nationalists also journalists, they founded newspapers, some of which are still in operation today.
He described the media as one or the most important institutions for the promotion of democratic values, adding that the media have arguably been playing a very important role in building the culture of peace in the country.
While giving his recommendations on strengthen the media’s role in being socially responsible in times of crisis to ensure effective conflict resolution and seamless consensus achievement.
He said, “ First, I urge the editors and media managers to play a greater mediatory role by entrenching a peace media system and building a culture of peace in today’s conflict-ridden world.
“Also, because most newspapers or broadcast media also have online versions, the Nigerian Communications Commission strongly advocate responsible use of the Internet to carry out personal, business and other professional activities in the way and manner as to promote unity, peaceful co-existence and cohesion in the society.
“In times of crisis, a lot of people look up to the media to provide vital information that will help them in making informed decisions that create stability in emotional management, rather than take actions that result in pandemonium.
“Effective training of media professionals on specialised reporting areas such as conflict/crisis reporting on a continuous basis is also strongly recommended,” he said.