The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) will institutionalise data protection in Nigeria, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha has revealed.
Mustapha revealed this when he received the NDPB national commissioner, Dr. Vincent Olatunji who led some staff of the bureau on a courtesy call on the SGF at the Shehu Shagari Complex, Abuja.
The SGF expressed his delight at the visit and restated the need for the establishment of the bureau in line with global best practices. He noted that Nigeria is fast becoming a data-driven society, hence the need to curb the menace of data breaches.
“Data theft is one of the most thriving businesses in the world. Everywhere you go, every country is putting measures in place so that the data of its citizens are protected because unauthorized accessibility to people’s data would invariably allow anybody doing that to take absolute control over the people’s lives: from their financial transactions to their health records and access to certain information which can be manipulated.
“I am glad that we are starting well by laying the foundation that is required, which is having an institution like the bureau,” he said.
Mustapha also assured the NDPB of the Federal Government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for the bureau to achieve its statutory obligations by ensuring that the needed legislative framework is in place.
The SGF assured that the Federal Government would do everything within its capacity to support the Bureau by ensuring that the needed legislative framework and service-wide circulars were worked out.
“I have listened to you and I have seen the prospects of the bureau. I would want to assure you that if there is anything I can do to ensure that the necessary legislation is put in place as quickly as possible, I’m ready to do it. You are operating with regulation that was put up earlier but you need a legislative framework to strengthen your hands and your surveillance of organizations that are supposed to process data – your ability to impose fines and penalties in cases of infractions [is important].
“I want to thank you for this visit and to assure you that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is willing to be one of your strongest advocates. If need be, at the appropriate moment, you can work with the permanent secretary, general services office, to craft a service-wide circular to ensure compliance by the MDAs,” he stated.
Earlier, Olatunji pointed out that the purpose of the visit was to acquaint the SGF with the activities of the bureau and to seek collaboration with his office toward the implementation of a robust data protection regulation in Nigeria.
He also appealed for the institutionalisation of data protection in the public sector through the issuance of a service-wide circular to all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) for compliance with the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
According to him, the bureau has embarked on a sensitisation tour to different MDAs to keep them abreast of what the bureau is doing, as enshrined by the law in data protection and, also, to get them to buy-in.
“We are taking the lead to ensure that we have a principal law for data protection in the country. What we are doing now is to create awareness. We have visited more than 35 organisations [in the] public sector. We have discovered that, in the audit report the performance of the public sector is very poor; just 4 per cent while the financial sector is 49 per cent. We have been visiting major data controllers in the public sector to create awareness. That is why we are here today to brief [the] SGF,” he said.
He assured of the bureau’s readiness to build the capacity of public servants in data protection, to create awareness of the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).