The National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), Dr Vincent Olatunji, led some of the Bureau’s staff to the Shehu Shagari Complex in Abuja-FCT to meet with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF Boss Mustapha.
The SGF expressed his delight at the National Commissioner’s visit and emphasized the importance of establishing the Bureau in accordance with global best practices. He noted that Nigeria is rapidly becoming a data-driven society, emphasizing the importance of addressing the threat of data breaches.
He said, “Data theft is one of the most thriving businesses in the world. Everywhere you go, every country is putting measures in place so that data of its citizens are protected because accessibility to people’s data, unauthorized ones, would invariably allow anybody doing that to take absolute control over the people’s lives, from their financial transactions to their health records, to their 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 by way of the Bureau.”
He 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 put 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.
In his words: “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. Because you are operating with regulation that was put up earlier, you need a legislative framework that would strengthen your hands, even your surveillance over organizations that are supposed to process data – your ability to impose fines and penalties in cases of infractions.
“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. And if need be, at the appropriate moment, you can work along with the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office so that you can craft a service-wide circular to ensure compliance by the MDAs.”
Speaking earlier, the National Commissioner/CEO of NDPB, Vincent O. Olatunji, said 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 institutionalization 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 sensitization tour to different MDAs to keep them abreast of what the Bureau is doing, as enshrined by the law in data protection, and to also get their 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 public sector organizations. We have discovered that in the audit report, the performance of the public sector is very poor, just 4 percent while the financial sector is 49 percent. So, we have been visiting major data controllers in the public sector to create awareness. That is why we are here today too brief SGF,” he said.
He further said that the Bureau is ready to build the capacity of public servants in data protection with the aim of creating awareness of the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).