The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) and Ministry of Interior have teamed up to safeguard the integrity and protection of personal data of Nigerians.
This formed a focal point of discourse as the NDPC team, led by the National Commissioner/CEO, Vincent Olatunji, recently conducted an advocacy visit to the Honourable Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, at his office in Abuja to raise awareness about Data Protection
Dr Olatunji emphasized the increasing digitization of the world and its impact on various aspects of human life, particularly the sharing of personal data such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, NIN, and BVN; all of which are crucial in identifying individuals.
He stated, “There are some personal data that are sensitive, which require additional safeguards, such as our health records, labor union affiliation, sexual orientation, and information that can be used for discriminatory purposes.”
Highlighting the global focus on safeguarding online identities, Dr Olatunji highlighted some existing international efforts and particularly, the Nigeria Data Protection Act which ensures the protection of personal data, thus, contributing to Nigeria’s global recognition.
He stressed the significance of compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Act (NDPA), especially for the Ministry of Interior, which serves as a major data controller due to its oversight of agencies such as the Nigeria Immigration Service, Civil Defense, Nigerian Correctional Service, Federal Fire Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp, and the National Identity Management Commission.
Olatunji stated, “Something as fundamental as our international passport, which now carries our NIN, serves as our primary identity, equivalent to a social security number… we have come to collaborate on strategies to enhance the integrity of the data of Nigerians.”
The Minister of Interior commended Olatunji, acknowledging him as one of the most accomplished figures in the public sector.
He commended the significant strides made in establishing a robust data protection ecosystem in Nigeria within a short period.
Recognizing the Ministry of Interior’s central role in the Data Protection landscape, he commented, “Apart from internal security, our core responsibility is to safeguard the integrity of citizenship, personal data, and identity. Collaboration with you is imperative in our marriage registries, citizenship matters, business operations, rights of expatriates, places of worship, and even to our inmates in the correctional service.”
The Minister requested a capacity-building program for the Ministry of Interior’s staff to be organized by NDPC, to enhance their understanding and application of Data Protection principles in their daily activities. Additionally, he proposed a comprehensive Data Protection audit spanning the ministry and its agencies.
The NDPC boss, Olatunji, graciously agreed to train the Ministry of Interior’s staff at no cost and outlined the process for conducting a Data Protection Compliance Organization-led audit. Furthermore, both the NDPC and the Ministry of Interior identified potential areas for collaboration and partnership.