The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, says the National Toll-Free Emergency Number, being promoted by the NCC, will create a structure to guarantee quick security response to Nigerians in times of emergencies.
Mr Lawan said this, while declaring open a one-day public hearing on the Nigerian Postal Service Act amendment bill and the National Toll-Free Emergency Number (Establishment) Bill, 2021.
Mr Lawan said the bills when passed, would result in significant improvement in the country’s messaging systems.
“We cannot undermine the place of communication in our lives, considering it’s ability to help us pass information around, not only for the development of understanding and knowledges, but for us to carry out physical responsibilities for social progress.
“The Nigerian Postal Service Act is particularly in focus for its ability to strengthen the regulatory capacity of that agency, aside from enhancing its facility to meet the aspirations of the people.
“The National Toll-Free Emergency Number (Establishment) Bill, 2021 is equally very important for offering citizens the outlet to freely seek assistance, in case of emergency, or for the prevention of incidences.
“We underline the public service role of government in the two bills, in view of government constitutional responsibility to work for the security and wellbeing of the people.”
Sponsor of the bill National Toll-Free Emergency Number bill, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, (APC-Ogun), represented by Senator Tolu Odebiyi said the bill would make 112 the emergency number of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be free and uniform throughout the country.
“The 122 emergency number will enable Nigerians to have access to emergency service agencies for quick and timely response to all forms of emergency situations such as road accidents, fire outbreaks, burglary, medical emergencies, and recently we have kidnappings, banditry and so on.”
According to Mr Odebiyi, the availability of multiple telephone and helpline numbers in Nigeria are becoming impediments for people to get accelerated emergency response from emergency situations.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, speaking on the National Toll-Free Emergency Number Bill, said the ministry had already activated plans to have a minimum of one emergency communications centre in every state of the federation.
“The move to activate existing centres as well as create new ones, was to address the insecurity across the country.”
He, however, advised that the bill accommodate provisions for the establishment of the National Toll-Free Emergency Number Board, as against the creation of a separate agency, to be chaired by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
“We feel the bill should expand more to make it a Board,however, we had a slight discussion with NCC on it.
“NCC proposed having Nigerian Toll-Free Emergency Communications Agency, while the Ministry feels it is better to make it a board, that board can be chaired by the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC.
“Because if we make it another agency, it might make it a little bit difficult to manage looking at the challenges of revenue generation and many more, and government is working daily to reduce the number of unnecessary agencies that are duplicating their responsibilities,” the Minister said.
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