By Yusuf YUSUF
The pioneer National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), is one man who has risen through the ranks, showing expertise both in administrative roles as well as the information technology field, as a formidable force whose trajectory of achievements keeps many on their toes.
All these, he has managed to achieve without giving room for the notion of imitation but rather, by setting an exemplary step in advancing policies to ensure the development of the status quo.
A Certified Public Private Partnership Specialist (IP3 Specialist) and a PECB Certified Data Protection Officer, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, (FIIM, IAPP, and NCS) is a promising figure the technology world needs to watch out for in coming years.
He joined NITDA in 2002 and has worked in various departments thereby rising to the position of director in 2014 and Acting DG in 2016 amongst other roles serving in various departments before his recent appointment as National Commissioner.
In just over a year, Dr. Vincent Olatunji is creating a new legacy as the pioneer National Commissioner/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau while setting the pace for the institutionalization of data protection laws in Nigeria.
The Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) is an intrinsic segment of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy born on the 4th of February 2022, out of the need to uphold the National Digital Economy Policy for Digital Nigeria (NDEPS) by further strengthening as well as entrenching the protection of personally identifiable information and sensitive personal data.
Such data includes emails, names, telephone numbers, house addresses, religious beliefs, political lineage, medical records, labour union affiliations, and information being uploaded online in line with standard global practices in a digital economy.
The objective of the bureau as stipulated by the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019 (NDPR) include
- Safeguard the rights of natural persons to data privacy
- Foster safe conduct for transactions involving the exchange of personal data
- Prevent manipulation of personal data and
- Ensure that Nigerian businesses remain competitive in international trade through the safeguards afforded by a just and equitable legal regulatory framework on data protection.
While keying into the global digital revolution is inevitable, it is only pertinent that this rising need is met with accurate preparedness. It is on this note, a major milestone was recorded under the able leadership of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, with the launch of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS).
The NDEPS was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) in 2019. This subsequently led to the re-designation of the Ministry of Communications to include the digital economy, thereby giving it a new phase.
With this development, the journey of the much-desired and envisioned Digital Nigeria began. This was, however, followed by several restructurings to accommodate the new set mandate of the Ministry. And such restructuring included the NDPR.
Unarguably, Dr. Olatunji has continued laying exemplary standards for any successor to measure up to in time memorial as he has managed to adapt existing resources and manpower to carter for the immediate needs of his bureau to ensure swift and immediate operations against all odds to kick start immediate operations.
Stepping into the herculean task of laying a solid bedrock for data protection policies and strategies without giving room for doubts or sloppiness while distinguishing himself as a formidable force to reckon with, as a pioneer, may pose a major challenge to many.
This is because the way of the pioneer is always filled with different hurdles stemming from proper administration to implementation of policies. However, Dr. Olatunji draws strength from his love for his profession, leaving no stone untouched in his quest to achieve excellence as he emulates the popular saying that “People who end up being first don’t actually set out to be first, they set out to do something they love.”
The Bureau, within the last year of its establishment, has recorded significant growth under various parametres including but not limited to the following: –
- Rate of increment of the public sector integration into data privacy and protection framework – 100%,
- Rate of increment in the enrolment of DPOs from data controllers and processors across Nigeria – 600%,
- Rate of increment in the licensing of Data Protection Compliance Organizations (DPCOs) – 50%
Similarly, revenue generation through the implementation of the NDPR has increased by over 60%.
The foregoing milestones are taking place at a time when the Digital Economy under Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is breaking records in its contribution to Nigeria’s GDP. The ICT sector for instance contributed 18.44% to the total real GDP in Quarter 2 of 2022 – outperforming virtually all other sectors.
The establishment of the Bureau, under the visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has strengthened the bulwark of fundamental rights and freedoms of Nigerian citizens in the data economy ecosystem and has, to all intents and purposes, earned Nigeria a pride of place in the arena of international data governance and human capital development.
With the recent approval of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for further ratification and endorsement by the National Assembly, we wish Dr. Vincent Olatunji, twice as much of successes recorded by him just in one year as he sets out to achieve greater developments in the strategic implementation of data protection laws in Nigeria.