NDPB: Pantami strengthens data protection in Nigeria
I have never ceased to wonder why the Nigerian media space is polarized, often tilted along with narratives that whip up sentiment, cause disaffection and create a lacuna for a system of distrust and abhorrence of glorious public service impacts worth celebrating.
No doubt we are all at liberty to air our opinions, vent our grievances and demand necessary action from our public service holders – a nucleus that is the crux of every democracy and free society. However, the rate at which we are ready to latch on to wrong narratives is lamentable.
I’d always hoped that this vintage point of mine will one day be proven wrong but the more positive events unfold, the more I fear for a total erosion of national pride in our collective affairs.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB). This followed a request by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.
A statement by his spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, said the NDPB was established, in line with global best practices, for data protection and privacy. The bureau will consolidate the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) gains and support the development of primary legislation for data protection and privacy.
Suleiman explained that the successful implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria has significantly increased the adoption of data platforms and accelerated the ‘datafication’ of our society.
Interestingly, there was dead silence from all media quarters on this novel development. Media narratives, discussion programs, social media parrots, public commentators all missed the opportunity for in-depth analysis and lay breakdown of what this means for Nigeria and Nigerians.
If the opposite was the case, hell would have been let loose. The polity would have been overheated by now and the same community of keyboard and megaphone warriors would have been demanding for Pantami’s neck.
To think that the same man wrongfully accused of the propensity of handing the data of Nigerians to terrorists has now put effective protection mechanisms in place to assure and ensure privacy is surely not palatable to Nigeria’s enemies of progress.
That Pantami is a star genius and progressive visionary is not debatable even among his traducers. The man has performed sterlingly to the admiration of patriotic citizens and consternation of haters. His track record on Digital Reforms in the last one month alone is not only enviable but highly laudable.
Spanning fields of cyber security, National identity (NIMC), Nigeria Data Protection, Data Protection right, NIPOST Debit card, Chorea vehicle service, E-government, 5G Network and facilitating the approval of Access of NIN database to fight banditry in the country, Pantami has towered above skyscrapers.
He has championed the launch of new satellites to improve internet capacity. The existing Sat1R, launched in 2011 with a life span of 15 years, will expire in four years. In 2017, the federal government announced plans to raise $550million for two new communications satellites, which the Chinese Export and Import Bank agreed to provide.
According to Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), the approval of the Chinese bank followed representation by Nigeria that it could not afford the 15 per cent counterpart funding required for the country to access the loan.
The enrollment of Nigerians into the National Identification Number (NIN) has rapidly improved with over 30% if compared with the previous administration. Before he assumed office, the annual enrollment used to be around 1.5 to 2million but between he increased the NIN environment by 30 million in using the obsolete infrastructure.
The minister on January 27th launched 27 courier vehicles to help NIPOST improve service delivery, keying into e-governance and a sustainable digital economy. This will ensure the agency is digitalized to deliver in its statutory mandates. Its debit card and banking platform were designed to reach the unbanked population residing in remote areas.
This is not intended to replace other debit cards but rather an alternative banking platform. This service which can be used online and offline, it provides other alternatives to people living in unobserved and difficult environments because NIPOST exists in many places where other banks do not because the service is in every local government.
The government deliberately wants to leverage on that and ensure with use of NIGCOMSAT to provide Internet connectivity all over the country in places where there are no ATMs and banks.
Pantami facilitated NDPB approval to enable Digital Economy rules of engagements. This was after the establishment of the National Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and the Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team, both under the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
Furthermore, the minister is promoting the federal government agenda towards to achieving paperless government by the year 2030 to be driven by blockchain and other technologies. Since independence, Nigeria has experienced recurrent tensions due to the severe horizontal inequalities that exist between different ethnic nationals.
Pantami is also ensuring that the principles of federal character are observed in appointments, allocations and locations of digital infrastructure in the country. With these tremendous achievements, no comments or special regards from major media quarters, albeit keyboard and megaphone warriors.
Salis Mohammed Manager, a Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR) member, writes from Kano