…Narrates why proposal of having full fledged data protection institution and principal legislation of data protection regulation in Nigeria was conceived
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the “International Data Protection Day”, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isah Pantami has revealed that data privacy and data protection is a fundamental human right in Nigeria.
Pantami said privacy is not only in the enabling law. rather it is our constitutional rights according to the 1999 constitution (as amended) in section 37 and as long as you are innocent and law abiding.
The minister also narrated how the idea of how the proposal of having full fleged data protection institution and principal legislation of data protection regulation in Nigeria was conceptualised.
Pantami stated this during a press conference on day one of the National Privacy Week 2023 held at Abuja Continental Hotel on Saturday, January 28, 2023.
According to the Minister, whenever the government engages potential investors on the need for coming to Nigeria, they always ask if we have data protection law. Though he stressed that Nigeria has subsidiary law but while some investors agree that subsidiary law is sufficient, many other countries say it’s not sufficient. Pantami added that it all depends on what is being practiced in the country or where that company is headquartered. He said that it was due to these discrepancies that they came up with the proposal of having full fleged data protection institution and principal legislation of data protection regulation in Nigeria.
He reminded that prior to having the bill in place, there are some provisions of data protection and data privacy, regrettably, these protection was only mentioned without outlining how that can be achieved. This is what gave rise to having a principal legislation, the Minister added.
“We share a lot more information in the digital world than we used to. Businesses, organisations, close family, friends and acquaintances- all have access to some of our important personal data. Anyone who has this information needs to protect it and make sure it is not abused, sold, or falls into the hands of a criminal.
Sundiata Post recalls that the need for data protection has been recognised for over a decade, with Data Protection Day celebrated internationally on 28 January. Data Protection Day is the ideal time to find out which data protection laws are in force in Nigeria, and how companies and institutions are implementing them.
Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was published in January 2019. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is responsible for implementing the regulations, which ensure data and transactions are safeguarded. Any company dealing with personal data in Nigeria, or with citizens of Nigeria is required to follow these regulations. The regulations also ensure Nigeria is internationally competitive and that companies doing business in the country are assured data is secure.
NDPR gives customers protections so they know there are systems in place to ensure their data stays private and confidential. When customers give companies their information, they are giving them their trust that they will in turn protect data. Having a data protection system and following data protection laws shows that you take this trust and the responsibility for the data you have seriously. Businesses that embrace data protection laws and implement them have a competitive edge over those who don’t.
As part of our endeavour to support the initiative by the National Identity Management Commission’s (NIMC) to enrol Nigerian adults and children into the National Identity Database (NIDB), we had recently launched National Identification Number enrolment centres across multiple locations worldwide to offer diaspora enrollment services for Nigerians with their National Identification Number (NIN) issuance.
It is imperative that all companies – big and small ensure the data they hold is protected.