NDPB: Pantami Again?
By Salis Mohammed Manager

TECHDIGEST – I have never ceased to wonder why the Nigerian media space is too polarized, often tilted along narratives that whip up sentiment, cause disafection and create a lacuna for system distrust and abhorrence of glorious public service impacts worth celebrating.

No doubt we are all at liberty to air our opinions, vent our grievance and demand necessary action from our public service holders – a neuclus that is the Crux of every democracy and free society.

However, it is lamentable the rate at which we are ready to latch on negative narratives with multiple times more vigour than we do when the opposite is the case.

I’d always hoped that this vintage point of mine will one day be proven wrong but the more positive events unfold in Nigeria, the more I fear for a total erosion of National pride in our collective affairs.

Just recently, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB).

This followed a request made by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).

A statement by the Spokesperson to the Minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, said the NDPB was established in line with global best practice and will focus on data protection and privacy for the country, among others.

She explained that the successful implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria has significantly increased the adoption of data platforms and accelerated the datafication of our society.

Interestingly, there was dead silence from all media quarters on this novel development.

Media narratives, discussion programs, social media parrots, public commentators all missed the opportunity for an in-depth analysis and lay breakdown of what this means for Nigeria and Nigerians.

If the opposite was the case, hell would have been let loose, the polity would have been over heated by now and the same community of keyboard and megaphone warriors would have been demanding for Pantami’s neck.

To think that the same man wrongfully accused of the propensity of handing the Data of Nigerians to terrorist has now put effective protection mechanisms in place to assure and ensure privacy is surely not palatable to Nigeria’s enemies of progress.

More so that the pioneer DG was neither a Northerner nor a Muslim, wait! Think for a moment if the opposite was the case, the emphasis I bet would never have been on the newly created agency but the appointed head.

That Pantami is a star genius and progressive visionary is not debatable even among his traducers. Since being appointed Minister, the man has performed sterlingly to the admiration of patriotic Nigerians and consternation of haters.

His track record on Digital Reforms in the last one month alone is not only enviable but highly loudable.

Spanning fields of cyber security, National identity (NIMC), Nigeria Data Protection, Data Protection right, NIPOST Debit card, Chorea vehicle service, E -Government , 5g Network and facilitating the approval of Access of NIN data base to fight banditry in the country, Pantami has surely towered above sky scrapers.

Meanwhile, in recent time Pantami has championed the launching of New satellite to improve our internet capacity, the existing Sat1R, which was launched in 2011 with a life span of 15 years, will expire in the next four years.

Recall that the federal government had in 2017, announced plans to raise $550m for the construction of two new communications satellites for Nigeria, which the Chinese Export and Import Bank accepted to provide.

According to Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited NIGCOMSAT, the approval of the Chinese bank followed representation by Nigeria that it could not afford the 15 per cent counterpart funding required for the country to access the loan of $550m for the construction of the two new communications satellites.

However, the achievement is not limited digital space alone but, the enrollment of Nigerians in to the National identity Number NIN has rapidly improved with over 30% if compared with the previous administration.

Before he assumed office, the annual enrollment used to be around 1.5 to 2million but between he increased the NIN environment by 30 million in using the obsolete infrastructure.

The minister also on Jan. 27th launched 27 courier vehicles to help NIPOST improve service delivery across the country. The service will enable NIPOST key into e-governance and a sustainable digital economy. This will ensure that NIPOST is digitalized to deliver in its statutory mandates.

Its debit card and banking platform were designed to reach the unbanked population residing in remote areas. This is not intended to replace other debit cards but rather an alternative banking platform. This service which can be used online and offline, it provides other alternatives to people living in unobserved and difficult environments because NIPOST exists in many places where other banks do not because the service is in every local government.

The government deliberately wants to leverage on that, and ensure with use NIGCOMSAT to provide Internet connectivity all over the country in places where there are no ATMs and banks.

Prof. Isa Pantami also facilitated the approval Nigerian data Protection Bureau NDPB to enable Digital Economy rules of engagements this was after the establishment of national Centre for artificial intelligence and Robotics and Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) among others.

The successful implementation of the Nigerian Data protection bureau has significantly increased the adoption of data platforms and accelerated the datafication of our society, the Bureau has the responsibility for consolidating the gains of the NDPR and supporting the process for the development of a primary legislation for data protection and privacy.

His efforts of boosting the Digital economy cannot be over emphased as is in line with the promoting the agenda of the federal government towards to achieving paperless government by the year 2030 to be driven by Block chain and other technologies.

Since attaining independence, Nigeria has experienced recurrent tensions due to the severe horizontal inequalities that exist between different ethnic nationals, Pantami ensures that the principles of Federal character are observed in appointments, allocations and locations of digital infrastructure in the country.

With all this tremendous achievement, no comments or a special regards from major Media quarters; albiet keyboard and megaphone warriors.

Salis Mohammed Manager, a member, Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR) writes from Kano via
[email protected]

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