No fewer than two hundred and fifty stakeholders, Wednesday, unanimously gave their nod to the steps towards enacting a principal Data Protection law for Nigeria.
Rising from a two-day Policy Dialogue on Nigeria’s Data Protection law, held in Abuja, the participants were of the view that a data protection law for the country was long overdue.
The Policy Dialogue, convened by the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, with support from Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project, had in attendance, representatives of relevant public institutions, the private sector, and civil society.
Speaking at the event, World Bank’s Country Director to Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri charged the Nigerian Government to take urgent steps toward enacting a Data Protection Law for Nigeria.
Chaudhuri, who described digital identification as a key to unlocking the potential of nations, argued that a data protection law was critical for Nigeria.
“Digital identification is key to unlocking the potential of nations. A data protection law is very critical for Nigeria. Nigeria’s potential for a digital economy is high. We are hopeful that Nigeria will be able to enact a data protection and privacy law soon.”
Speaking at the event, Honourable Minister for Communication and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Pantami commended the Nigeria Digital ID4D project for supporting the event, describing data protection as very important for the country.
According to him, “data has become a highly sought commodity and more people are concerned about how their data is stored, processed, and transmitted.”
Represented by the Director General, National Identity Management Commission, Engr. Aliyu Aziz, the Minister argued that a Data Protection Law would provide a legal basis for challenging the unlawful use of data.
Adding his voice, National Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji assured that the proposed law will help to secure the data of citizens.
Also speaking, Project Coordinator, Nigeria Digital Identification for a Development project, Musa Odole Solomon said Data Protection was a constitutional matter, even as he made a case for a principal privacy law for Nigeria.
Solomon highlighted the benefits of digital identification, adding that the drive for citizens’ enrolment for National Identity numbers, makes timely enactment of the law expedient.
“It is one thing to collate citizens’ data and another to ensure that such data is utilized in a responsible manner. This can only be achieved through proper legislation. We need to continue to enhance the trust of the people. We must assure citizens of the security of their data.”
Assuring stakeholders of the commitment of the National Assembly to enact a Data Protection Law for Nigeria, Chairman, Senate Committee on Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security, Senator Yakubu Oseni said the National Assembly was willing to enact a privacy law for Nigeria.
The Nigeria Immigration Service, represented by Acting Deputy Comptroller General, in charge of Planning, Research and Statistics, Dora Amahian; National Population Commission, represented by the Director General, Ugoeze Patience Mbagwu, National Information Technology Development Agency, National Pension Commission, and several other public institutions took turns to justify the need for a data protection legislation for the country.
Private sector and civil society actors all spoke in favour of a Data Protection Law for Nigeria.
Highlights of the event were panel discussions, break-out sessions, and plenary, among others.
Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) project is a Nigerian project, jointly funded by The World Bank, European Investment Bank, and French Development Agency.
Walter Duru, Ph.D
Nigeria Digital ID4D Project