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‘Why proper management of data remains a challenge in Nigeria’

By Adeyemi Adepetun
22 May 2019   |   2:17 am
Poor data management may remain a limitation for Nigeria’s economic advancement because of lack and poor implementation of policies. Besides, poor sensitisation and education on what constitute data, either public or private is also seen as another limiting factor.

Oyedokun Oyewole

Poor data management may remain a limitation for Nigeria’s economic advancement because of lack and poor implementation of policies. Besides, poor sensitisation and education on what constitute data, either public or private is also seen as another limiting factor.

These, among others, were itemised by experts at the Institute of Information Management (IIM) Africa to mark the Information Management and Literacy Week 2019 in Lagos.

In this vein, the experts called on government at all levels to initiate policies and measures to ensure proper management of information and data in the country.

With the theme, “A reformed and renewed society through information Literacy”, the forum was convened to provide several opportunities in finding out about a wide range of services that information management offers. The 2019 edition highlighted and identified various information gaps, information management needs, and also proffered required framework for effective data/information governance in regulatory agencies across the Country.

The literacy week also set the parameters for data/information management, usage, creating processes for resolving data/information issues aimed at enabling regulatory bodies and other stakeholders make decisions based on high-quality data and well-managed information assets.

Several speakers and activities lined up for the week-long programe also pin-pointed the vital role which information management services play for research and education.

Speaking at the event, the President, Institute of Information Management (IIM), Africa, Dr. Oyedokun Oyewole, said that government had a role to play in ensuring the existence of enabling laws, and providing adequate enlightenment to citizens on the need for proper data and information management.

Oyewole said that government could educate citizens by organising workshops, seminars and radio shows in form of jingles that would enlighten citizens on dangers involved when data and information are not properly managed.

‘’In other climes like America, decimation of information by journalist is handled ethically and responsibly considering the sensitivity of such information to national security and its importance. Simply because there are known and established principles, standards, procedures, systems and policies in place to effectively handle such. Such principles, guidelines and policies should also be encouraged and promoted in the African society for balanced reporting by journalists,” Dr. Oyewole said.

He urged government regulatory agencies and private organisations to implement/imbibe policies, laws, systems and best practices that would enhance proper management of data and information. Emphasising on Information governance (IG) being the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of information used in an organization, he stressed the the need for regulatory authorities in Nigeria to ensure sound information governance program within their individual agencies with good governing body, charged with defining the set of procedures and plans to execute those procedures. “As Information Governance is required to ensure that organization’s information assets are formally, properly, proactively and efficiently managed throughout the enterprise to secure its trust & accountability, for the ultimate improvement in productivity and efficiency of an organization in meeting regulatory, legal, risk and operational requirements”.

The president also commended the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for recent introduction of data privacy regulations to protect Nigerians and also sensitise them on the need to protect their personal data and information.In a presentation titled, ‘Best Practices and the Role of the Press in Disseminating Sensitive Information to the Public’, John Montana, a renowned Information Management Expert, said that press occupy a conspicuous position to influence proper information dissemination.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and cannot be limited without being lost”, he quoted former US President Thomas Jefferson.He further quoted Hugo Black who said, “The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of the government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose the deceptions in government”.

Montana added that the role of the press is to keep the government in power in check, but must be done in accurate and objective manner.He further cautioned against ‘careless’ reportage of sensitive information such as personal information – financial data, health data, etc; embarrassing information about a crime victim – for example rape; information that may be valuable to criminals, terrorists and other bad actors.

On his part, the Executive Director, Numeric Technologies, Alexander Anago, said that there was need for the government to put in place information protection life cycle strategy to effectively protect, detect, respond and monitor hackers.

“The government needs to provide national gateway for information processing transmission to improve intelligence.“The government should also implement cross border information security policies, cyber law and information processing policies for proper management of data.“To effectively manage the data of citizens and the country as a whole the government needs to find a lasting solution to Advanced Persistent Threats.

“Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) is a network attack in which unauthorised persons gain access to a network and stay there undetected for a long period of time.“The intention of an APT attack is to steal data; so, the government needs to adopt sophisticated techniques for early detection of such attacks before it happens,” Anago said.

The Director-General of NITDA, Dr Isa Pantami, who was represented by Seyi Ogunseye, a consultant in the Strategic Operations Department, said that the Agency had been creating awareness on the need for proper management of information and data.He said that Section 6 of NITDA Act 2007 mandates the agency to create a framework for planning, research, development, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of information technology practices and systems in Nigeria.