The Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) has reemphasised the need for privacy and data protection to shield Nigerians as the country moves towards a thriving digital economy.
The Director-General of BPSR, Mr Dasuki Arabi, made the observation at the March edition of the BPSR lunch time reform seminar, organised for public servants across agencies of government in Abuja.
Arabi said that Nigerians were highly innovative people and a thriving digital economy will create employment opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming population and lift millions out of poverty.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the seminar is titled. “National Digital Transformation and Data Protection Awareness Campaign.’’
According to Arabi, digitalisation is playing fundamental roles in our daily lives and there is a need to protect the data we produce on a regular basis.
“The data that is generated every day needs to be protected.
“Data protection thus is the process of defending sensitive information against loss, tampering, or corruption. As data is created and stored at previously unheard-of rates, the significance of data protection grows.
“Additionally, there is little tolerance for downtime that might prevent access to crucial information. Other crucial aspects of data protection include guaranteeing data privacy and safeguarding data against compromise.
“Millions of workers had to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, necessitating the need for remote data protection. Organisations must change to protect employee data whether it is on laptops at home or in a central data center at work,’’ he said.
Arabi said that the lunch time seminar was a part of the BPSR’ continuous effort of conducting research on Government programmes and policies and presenting ‘’best practice’’ models for implementation in the Nigerian public service.
He said that the seminar provided a forum for active exchange of ideas on reform issues and share experiences with a view to transfer knowledge and broadening public servants’ awareness on the implementation of current policy issues.
“Lessons learnt from this seminar will help to enrich the debate about the future of the public service and its roles in the delivery of quality service to Nigerians.
“In order to digitize non-digital products, services, or operations, every organisation must adopt digital technology. Increased value through innovation, invention, improved customer service, or increased productivity is the aim of its implementation.
“In Nigeria, digital technologies are transforming every aspect of our modern life, necessitating the development of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS)
“This is to enable Nigeria take advantage of digitisation to become a leading player in the global digital economy and provide a catalyst to facilitate the diversification of the economy and the attainment of the key national objectives of improving security, reducing corruption and expanding the economy,’’ he said.
The director-general said that the bureau would continue its campaign and will partner with stakeholders to ensure awareness across the country and the buy-in of States and local Governments.
In a paper delivered at the seminar, the National Commissioner, Nigerian Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) Mr Vincent Olatunji, said that implementation of data protection NDPB regulations had significant implications for agencies of government.
He said that the Federal Government, through the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, issued a circular on Nov. 7, 2022 directing agencies to comply with the NDPR reforms.
He said on Nov. 16, 2022, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation also issued a circular making compliance with NDPR reforms obligatory in public service.
Olatunji said it increases accountability, security measures, galvanises public trust and ensures that the services of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) is employed.
According to him, the CEO of government agencies will be held liable should there be any breach of data and privacy guidelines, stressing the need to employ the services of DPOs.
“The NDPR requires organisations to appoint a DPO, whose responsibility is to ensure compliance with the regulations. MDAs will need to appoint a DPO who will be responsible for overseeing data protection activities within the organisation.
“Non-compliance with the NDPR can lead to legal consequences, including fines, penalties, and legal action. MDAs will need to ensure that they are complying with the regulations to avoid these consequences,” he said.
Olatunji, therefore advised public servants to consider developing themselves to become DPOs as they could fall back to the skill after retirement saying that the demand is high.