Confusing criticism of a communications minister, By David Onmeje
The problem in Nigeria is that a number of critics are more confused than the views they reel out in criticisms. Sometimes, they even reel out criticisms which burp with warped opinions, obviously pointing to the shadows of hirelings.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) Complex at Mbora was recently commissioned with President Muhammadu Buhari in attendance. It was a great accomplishment and a successful ceremony by all gradations.
But thereafter, a critic, apparently on a hatchet job, staged out with vituperations of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami. Apparently, he had personal or instigated issues with the minister, but unfortunately presented them in an award-winning trophy of flawed style and lost senses from the first word to the last with his flawed ink. Candidly, he impressed himself, but no one else.
The critic, Emmanuel Johnmar was loud in condemnations of the minister; labelled him a liar, corrupt, incompetent and a neophyte in managing Nigeria’s telecommunications industry. Scrutinising the contents of his criticisms, there was the confounding problem of establishing his real intent. He got himself confused more than the public he staged out to elucidate.
Was Johnmar attempting to praise Mr. President or berate him for appointing an incompetent person like Dr. Pantami to superintend on Nigeria’s communication’s industry and digital economy? At a point, the critic sounded like someone weeping for President Buhari for having a “disaster” like Pantami in his government. But could the critic be more catholic than the Pope?
What befuddled most was the critic’s parameters of what his intelligence could deliver to him as yardsticks of excellence or commendable performance on a job or public office. It was laughable that the critic’s notion of splendor in the case of NCC, one of the many agencies under the supervision of Dr. Pantami was that there is “no credibility in employment, promotions and awards of contracts.” Is this his idea of perfection in a public office?
Sadly, that’s the critic’s idea of excellence of a government agency or ministry and not service delivery to the public. It provided clear insights to discerning minds that disgruntled staff of NCC and their shadowy accomplices in the Ministry have contracted him to run down the minister at all cost.
These are same critics who abuse President Buhari’s principle and philosophy that government is continuity. Nigeria’s landscape is dotted with billions upon billions of uncompleted projects. And public funds have been sunk into them, but every successive government abandon such projects. But President Buhari introduced a new approach to governance by completing these abandoned projects, yet the critics are still fuming and mouthing all manner of insanities in condemnations.
When Buhari completes projects abandoned by his predecessors, the critics claim he is devoid of wisdom to initiate and complete his own projects. If he overlooks them and apply his principle, in the greater interest of Nigerians, the same critics still complain. One is compelled to think whether Buhari’s predecessors brought out the money for such projects from their family patrimony.
The crux of Johnmar’s criticisms on President Buhari, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami and the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) NCC, Prof. Garba Danbatta is that the incumbent administration never appreciated the NCC Complex building they commissioned as started by previous administrations in Nigeria.
The same senior officials Johnmar sought desperately and provocatively to disparage have traversed a long trajectory in public leadership. President Buhari’s public leadership antecedents are open secrets. Whilst Prof. Danbatta has an established niche as a famed academic in his field of specialisation, who by virtue of public service, works under Minister Pantami. And both are crack brains in the Information and Communication (ICT) industry in Nigeria.
Dr. Pantami particularly has come a long way in the ICT industry home and abroad. He established his fame years back, right from the point he was the Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) at the outset of the President Buhari’s administration.
And Dr. Pantami marshalled out a work-plan and a template, which accomplished this mandate within the shortest possible time through an action frame-work he christened, as, “The Strategic Roadmap To Transform the Nigerian IT Sector,” document. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy elevated the Nigeria’s regulation of the IT industry and left relics such as e-governance in MDAs; enhanced cybersecurity; digital inclusion; platforms for private sector capacity building by IT stakeholders, development of local content and its promotion.
Nigeria as a nation benefited a lot from his initiatives in NITDA. Through e-governance, ghost workers from the federal civil service numbering over 34, 000 were fished out and government saved billions of taxpayers’ money to invest in other sectors. JAMB now conducts Computer Based Tests (CBTs) and several other federal government MDAs are seamlessly harnessing the treasures of Dr. Pantami’s IT knowledge in different sectors of governance.
It is the reliability and impact of Dr. Pantami’s performance in NITDA that ASUU is hesitating enrolment into IPPIS and advancing all manner of excuses. It is therefore, uncharitable for any critic to descend his contracted ink or axe on such a rare gift to Nigeria in the IT or ICT sector. Pantami’s elevation to the position of minister streams from his preceding excellent performance as NITDA boss.
Nonetheless, as minister, Dr. Pantami has taken full control of Nigeria’s Telecoms industry and IT world; he was first to decry to Telecoms operators that they are over-billing Nigerians on data. He was frank that once Nigerians purchase data, it should not expire. He is working towards implementing the pay -as- you-go package for all GSM operators in the country. He is perfecting plans to compel Telecoms to charge Nigerians less for the services they offer.
It is very unconscionable for a self-styled critic to brand Dr. Pantami and those who work under him with such baseless allegations. These are allegations even the so-called critic has not dropped any hint about their veracity. It’s not all about anyone sleeping to wake up and some demons quarantining his senses to scribble rubbish. The critic imagined and wrote frivolous allegations against Dr. Pantami because Nigeria is in a democratic government and freedom of expression is permitted. It smacks of the abuse of the same liberty of freedom of expression.
Minister Pantami remains one of the best leadership personalities in the new team of President Buhari and a vital cog in the #NextLevel blueprint. And it is definite that detractors such as Johnmar would maliciously come after him. President Buhari selects his team carefully.
So, those trying to crucify Pantami’s efforts are both local and international enemies of Nigeria who do not want the progress of the country and have conscripted critics to act at their behest. The Minister’s stewardship is stainless and he is poised to add more value to the development of Nigeria in the ICT and IT sector. Let the angels of darkness allow the star to shine on Africa.
Dr. Pantami has demonstrated himself as a dynamite in ideas, which are beneficially explosive. The critics should take an honourable bow out of his leadership space. Nothing written against Pantami has any modicum of conviction. It is the simple and plain truth. Johnmar is however appreciated for exercising his freedom of expression in a democracy.
David Onmeje wrote this piece from London.
Beauty of an indiscretion: Birthday bash in haven Amen, By Abdulwarees Solanke
You never know the power of the state and the strength of the law until the rich and the powerful run foul of them.
If the rich offends the state or the classy commits an infraction against the government but escapes the law or the state looks at the other way, we call it impunity.
When impunity is the culture of a people, the society becomes a lawless one.
Everyone lives in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The State is Hobbesian. Might is Right. Life is short and brutish. Only the rich rules. The open streets becomes a jungle and hounds prey on the weak or justice is instant, without recourse to the law.
In this state of lawlessness, the mighty makes mess of the state by open disregard for the law, by side-stepping the rules and regulations, by buying their ways, by greasing palms of street level bureaucrats and by bridging processes.
So doing, the resolve of the lesser endowed to rise to wealth and fame at all cost is strengthened. In such state competition is heightened, just as corruption is endorsed.
But in reality, subh state is weak and the government and justice are in the pockets of only the tiny rich and powerful.
Such is the state where citizens run over one another and cheat the system.
Such is the state where all sorts of cults are created, with maddening followership or membership in the belief that it guarantees their security, protection or immunity when they are in need of anything, including escaping the long arm of the law.
With a call to the top where they are connected, they can kill and not be caught. They can rape and not be reported, not suffering and repercussion of their action.
They can loot or steal blindly and the state and its agents turn their blind eyes.
There is always disdain for any measure to rein in abuses. So in this culture of disdain and disrespect for the law is the fault line of most underdeveloped countries of Africa and Asia.
It is at the root violence and bloodshed that signpost many of our major cities. It is at the heart of disorderliness of our towns and municipalities.
It even explains horrible traffic congestion on our roads, pervasive pollution of our water, land and soil and noxious emission into our air.
It is behind accepting noise of the highest decibels as fun or spiritual fervour in our neighbourood without attracting sanctions .
It also explains the thriving business of fake or substandard products, the ascendancy of touts as kingmakers in our polity when they take over the motor parks as lords milking commuters trou inflated fares.
It explains why abhorrent behaviours are celebrated as popular culture, and so derelicts and drug addicts become models for the young, justifying deviance as a virtue but morality and orderliness as stupidity.
So it came to be that in this season of coronization and quarantization when there is a call for social distancing, even a total ban on public gathering jncluding coming together to serve our GOD, some people felt it was an opportunity to celebrate profanity in organizing a birthday bash.
At the centre of tis indiscretion is Sister Jenifer, the popular thespian who thrills us with er hilarious show on the tube and cable channels.
The place was the haven of the rich nestling Elekp Beach where the breeze from of the Atlantic sweeps every exquisite home in the exclusive.
It is a place of answered prayers, proudly declared as Amen Estate.
All WHO is WHO in Music and Theatre were on ground to repulsively shame the law as they loudly sang, danced giddily, ate voraciously, drank to stupor and possibly sniffed and smoked stuffs with reckless abandon.
In their carelessness, they posted their libertarian engrossment in the social media.
What an affront What and insult on the state, not just Lagos but the very Federal government that declared total lockdown on Eco Aromisalebelebe.
Will Mr. Sanwo-Olu and Dr. Hamzat as drivers of Lagos look the other way to this infraction?
Even if they do, will Baba Buhari, just pat Jenifa? TiPt6er party, even if in ignorance of the law is a test on the government.
As they were rounded up, and are now offering public apologies, should the state excuse tem? I think no. NO.
For whatever it is, ignorance is no excuse before the law. They are sufficiently informed especially as they are all icons.
Thy should be setting examples and so examples should be made of them on the repercussion of lawlessness.
This is the beauty in some excesses, indiscretions or mistakes we can capriciously or ignorantly commit.
How will we know that a law is in place or is effective if it is not tried or tested?
The sanction against the offenders must be sufficiently strong and uncompromisingly deterring so that others Who may be secretly o against the law can be sown that the law is an ass with respect for no one.
This birthday bash in haven Amen is not one to be forgiven for it is an insensitivity to the mood of the world when thousands are dying of a pandemic that is threatening our humanity.
How can some favoured people be dancing at a time hordes of coro-infected people are dying everywhere? It’s callousness. It’s insensitivity.
- Abdulwarees is an assistant director of strategic planning & corporate development at Voice of Nigeria, Ikoyi Lagos
Dissecting the data protection regulation in Nigeria
BY: Aissatou Sylla, Kashifu Abdullahi and Olufemi Daniel
On 25 January 2019, the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) was issued by the National Information Technology Development Agency (“NITDA”), the ICT regulator for the nation.
Among the objectives behind this regulation were the protection of the privacy rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens, on the one hand, and the promotion of local and foreign investments in the digital economy by safeguarding the information systems infrastructure against breaches and implementing internationally compatible rules, on the other hand.
Nigeria is one of the few countries in Africa (the Ivory Coast being another example) that had decided to establish a privacy regulatory framework without creating a dedicated data protection authority. NITDA, statutorily instituted in 2007 has a mandate to oversee compliance with privacy laws. From a practical point of view, this stance has some advantages.
There are examples of certain data protection statutes that cannot be enforced years after enactment because their implementation required for the establishment of a data protection regulator. And due to different reasons, including budget, the regulatory body was yet to be created.
Another advantage is the possibility to have, within the same body, the expertise in both information security and privacy. Those two areas, which are central to data protection, are often separated. This can create coordination issues unless the authorities have set up means of systematically working closely and jointly.
The scope of the regulation is an extra-territorial one which applies to data controllers located outside Nigeria but processes the personal data of individuals resident in Nigeria. Hence, the regulation applies, for example, to most non-Nigerian social media companies with Nigerian-based users.
Key features of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation
The definition of “personal data” in NDPR is similar to that of other African countries and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The term refers to “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person”.
The definition further provides examples of personally identifiable information and includes MAC addresses, IP addresses, IMEI numbers, IMSI numbers and SIM numbers. NITDA considers that the personal data of deceased data subjects falls within the scope of the Regulation and can be enforced by their estate.
Similarly, the concept of “processing” is broadly construed and it includes inter alia data collection, recording or consultation.
This means, for example, that any operation tending to anonymise personal data, through encryption, anonymisation, pseudonymisation, hashing, scrambling prior to using the data for behavioural analyses or statistics, constitutes a processing activity and falls within the scope of the regulation. The same applies to any remote access or remote visualisation by, for instance, an IT support service provider, even if the data is not hosted on its systems.
With regards to the general principles governing data processing, the regulation provides that data must be collected and processed in accordance with a specific, legitimate and lawful purpose consented to by the data subject.
The data must be (i) adequate, accurate and without prejudice to the dignity of human person, (ii) stored only for the period within which it is reasonably needed and (iii) secured against all foreseeable hazards and breaches such as theft, cyberattack, viral attack, dissemination, manipulations of any kind, damage by rain, fire or exposure to other natural elements.
The legal bases on which personal data can be processed are (i) consent, (ii) the necessity for the performance of a contract, (iii) the compliance with a legal obligation, (iv) the protection of a vital interest and (v) public interest. Consent must be given by a statement or a clear affirmative action. This means that consent on an opt-out basis is prohibited.
Data subject rights are similar to the rights found in the GDPR or in the Kenyan and Beninese laws. They include the right to be informed in a clear, transparent and comprehensive manner, the right to rectification, the right to object to processing, the right to be forgotten, the right to restrict processing and the right to data portability.
Emphasis on accountability
Whereas the majority of the ECOWAS countries impose a notification to the data protection authority, or sometimes for its authorisation, prior to processing data (a requirement which is challenging to comply with for SMEs, and which would require a significant headcount increase at the regulator’s instance if it was widely complied with).
Nigeria has opted for a less bureaucratic approach and has instead imposed self-audits by data controllers who process the personal data of 1,000 data subjects or more. For anything beyond 2,000 data subjects, data controllers must, on an annual basis by 15 March, provide a summary of their audit to NITDA.
In addition, the regulation imposes the appointment of data protection officers. Guidance, to be issued by NITDA, will provide further detail on the thresholds beyond which it will be mandatory for an organisation to have an internal or external data protection officer.
Furthermore, compliance and self-audits are encouraged by the creation of Data Protection Compliance Organisations (“DPCOs”). These are organisations, such as consulting firms, audit firms, law firms etc, that apply to NITDA for a licence to provide training, auditing, and consulting services throughout the country.
DPCOs are expected to verify self-audits prior to submission to NITDA. This is a means of decentralising compliance activities for more efficiency.
For defaulters, the sanction for breach of the regulation is the greater of 10,000,000 naira or 2% of the annual gross revenue of the preceding year, where the data controller deals with more than 10,000 data subjects.
Nigeria continues to refine her privacy legal framework. NITDA is due to imminently publish an implementation framework for the regulation. It is also planning to issue guidance on specific subjects, such as; the requirements for a data protection officer, consent, data subject access request, self-auditing or international transfers of data.
In addition, a bill is under preparation with the view to enacting a data protection statute. The lessons from the implementation of the regulation is expected to form the fulcrum of a pragmatic national law.
*Aissatou Sylla, Attorney at Law, Senior Associate, Hogan Lovells LLP; Kashifu Abdullahi, Director General, National IT Development Agency & Olufemi Daniel, Lead Regulations Monitoring and Compliance, National IT Development Agency
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