By Ismail Auwal
Paradigm Initiative (PIN) in collaboration with CITAD and supported by the Omidyar Network organized a digital identity stakeholder engagement session. This session brought together different stakeholder groups within Kano to discuss the issue of digital identity in Nigeria. Digital Identities have become a global phenomenon as we move to the digital age and Nigeria has not been left behind.
There have been many issues raised since the establishment of NIMC and the NIN process. These issues surround privacy, data protection, consent, access, the purposes of it, the necessity and more.
There has also been a severe lack of awareness of the accompanying rights of the citizen and the duties of the government in this situations. Many are not aware that digital rights exist. Human rights in the era of digitalisation, needs to be adapted to protect and safeguard fundamental rights. Digital rights, closely linked to freedom of expression and privacy, are those that allow people to access, use, create and publish digital media, as well as access and use computers, other electronic devices and communications networks
The engagement has given the opportunity for the government to clarify these issues and allows for citizens to communicate their challenges and a back and forth of solutions in the room.
Gbenga Sesan the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative who chaired the event with the guest of honor the GM legal and regulatory services Hadiza Ali Dagabana who represented NIMC asked the crucial question
Why should Nigerians get NIN
And she responded “ The NIN and Birth certificate are a foundation identity. Nigerians have been battling with identification issues which will be made easy with a central digital registry of all Nigerians .
NIN removes the requirement for building agency biometric infrastructure in order to make it a centralize “
Other stakeholders present wanted to know…
What is NIMC doing to accelerate the data protection Law as well as secure the information of Nigerians?
She answered “NIMC has secured its infrastructure and personnel. Even the Director general doesn’t have access to the database” Access is controlled, monitored and evaluated.NIMC has been working on a data protection Bill for the past 7years now a draft has been sent to the national assembly. A copy of the draft is on the NIMC website. The review process will be concluded by next month.
To ensure the house of assembly passes this bill, we carry along our different committees and people supervising , we make sure that these committees are part of the discussion.
We have developed guidelines of how our CSOs monitor and give feedback.”
An openness to information as well as Trust is needed for the policies that are pushed to work.
This exercise was carried out by Paradigm Initiative in Uyo, Kano and eventually in Lagos. There has also been a similar engagement online on zoom. Khadijah El-Usman of PIN noted the attempt of PIN to educate as many Africans as possible on their digital rights.