Legislations are crucial for citizen’s identity protection – Pantami

From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja

The Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has said that it has become imperative to implement legislations that will ensure the protection and confidentiality of citizens data as part of the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.

Pantami made his assertion when he flagged off the “National Validation on Data Protection Bill” workshop organised by the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) in collaboration with the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) at the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre, Abuja.

In his keynote address, Pantami said that as part of efforts to sustain the country’s digital economy growth, it was crucial to have legislation that would ensure data protection considering the amount of data being generated in the country daily.

He said, “We know the data generated today is mind-boggling and we must therefore have regulations in place to ensure confidentiality and privacy of data being generated”.

Speaking enthusiastically about the journey so far on the implementation of the data protection bill, the Honorable Minister disclosed that the process began when he was the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the subsidiary legislation, Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was enacted on 29th January 2019 based on the provision of NITDA Act 2007.

While speaking with an utmost sense of modesty, Pantami revealed that unprecedented achievements have been made with the NDPR in the areas of creating awareness, job creation, and revenue generation for the government amongst many others.

He however noted that despite all the exploits made through the NDPR, it was necessary to have principal legislation to fully institutionalise data protection in the country, an initiative which birthed the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau on the 4th of February 2022.

“In order to ensure privacy and confidentiality of our citizen’s data, the administration of His excellency and my principal, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of NDPB”, he mentioned.

Emphasising on the importance of data in any economy globally, Pantami stated that; big data analytics, datafication, internet of things just to mention a few of the innovations that come with the emergence of the fourth Industrial revolution are all dependent on data.

He hinted that the reason for developing and implementing the NDPR was to ensure that there was no vacuum while in the process of enacting the principal legislation of Nigeria’s data protection law.

“In the past three years in Nigeria, we discovered that the quantity of data being generated increased by 202%, so it is necessary that there are legislations in place to ensure that these data are secured, confidential and private”, he noted.

NDPB, Dr Vincent Olatunji highlighted the importance of data protection legislation in Nigeria saying that people’s data need to be protected to secure their trust.

He said, “Relevant arrangement of law will benefits Nigerians in the society, adding that data protection apply to all work places, businesses, society and groups etc.

Coordinator, Nigeria Digital ID for Solomon Musa Odole, the director of the ID4D Development Project, stated that the group is prepared to support any legal and institutional efforts to obtain services in Nigeria.

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