In a concerted effort to enhance the integrity of personal data and bolster data protection in Nigeria, the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) has joined forces with the Ministry of Interior.
The partnership was cemented when the agency paid an advocacy visit to the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo in Abuja.
The delegation from NDPC, led by the national commissioner, Dr. Vincent Olatunji conveyed the significance of data protection in a world increasingly driven by digitisation. Olatunji emphasised the critical importance of safeguarding personal data, including information such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, NIN, and BVN, all of which play a pivotal role in identifying individuals. He also pointed out the existence of sensitive personal data that necessitate additional layers of protection, such as health records, labour union affiliations, sexual orientation, and information susceptible to discriminatory use.
Olatunji shed light on the global emphasis on securing online identities and underscored the pivotal role played by the Nigeria Data Protection Act in ensuring the protection of personal data. He highlighted the Act’s contribution to Nigeria’s global recognition in data protection and emphasized the significance of compliance with this legislation, especially for the Ministry of Interior.
Olatunji said the need for data integrity could not be over-emphasised, given the ministry’s role as a major data controller overseeing agencies like the Nigeria Immigration Service, Civil Defense, Nigerian Correctional Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp and the National Identity Management Commission.
He stated, “Fundamental documents like our international passports, now linked to our NIN, serve as our primary identity, equivalent to a social security number… We have come to collaborate on strategies to enhance the integrity of Nigerians’ data”.
The minister lauded Olatunji’s impressive contributions to the public sector and the remarkable strides made in establishing a robust data protection ecosystem in Nigeria. Recognising the Ministry of Interior’s pivotal role in the data protection landscape, he underscored the importance of collaboration with NDPC in various areas, including marriage registries, citizenship matters, business operations, rights of expatriates, places of worship and the correctional service.
In a statement issued by the NDPC’s head of the media unit, Itunu Dosekun the minister proposed a capacity-building programme for the Ministry of Interior’s staff, organized by NDPC, to enhance their understanding and application of Data Protection principles in their daily responsibilities. He also suggested a comprehensive data protection audit covering the ministry and its affiliated agencies.
Olatunji graciously agreed to provide training to the Ministry of Interior’s staff at no cost and outlined the process for conducting a data protection compliance organization-led audit. Furthermore, NDPC and the ministry identified potential areas for future collaboration and partnership to strengthen data protection and personal data integrity in Nigeria. This strategic alliance marks a significant step toward a safer and more secure digital environment for all Nigerians.