The Federal Government has unveiled plans to train 250,000 data protection officers on enhanced management of data across organisations to safeguard the privacy of citizens.
Dr Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, (NDPB) made this known during a capacity building workshop for data protection officers in the public sector, in Abuja.
He said that there is need for data protection officers operating in the public sector to understand the difference between data security and data privacy as they carry out their duties.
He bemoaned the poor statistics of data expert operating in Nigeria, adding that the Bureau would not relent in its drive to build capacities and train data protection officers in the country.
“We will develop a pool of competent data protection experts in the country. This is first set of data protection observers that we are training so far.
“We have gone round ministries and parastatals, we have trained them. We have done for the Attorney-General office, we have done for NTA, we have done for VON, we have done for Federal Polytechnic Nekede, we are working with the office of the secretary general to conduct their own.
“We are also working with the Federal Ministry of Health. We are pulling different people from ministries and departments and this is the first batch and I want to really congratulate all of them.
“Data privacy protection ecosystem is still emerging globally.
“In Nigeria the number of data processors and controllers that we have identified are over 500,000 and by our own estimates, those who are experts are not up to 10, 000, so there is a huge gap of over 490, 000 jobs available,” he said.
For his part, the Head, Legal Enforcement and Regulations, NDPB, Mr. Babatunde Bamigboye, said that the training is part of its activities to commemorate this year’s Data Privacy Day, celebrated yearly on Jan. 28.
Bamigboye said that the training which would be in series is aimed at ensuring that the officers are placed aper with their counterparts in the western world.
“We are starting with a batch of 100 and the idea is to have a pool of about 250,000 data protection officers in Nigeria who are globally competent.
“We also want to ensure that they have competence to practice data privacy or protection anywhere in the world. We have our partners from META that are helping us to achieve this,” he said.
On enforcement mechanisms to checkmate data breach on data protection by any organisation, he said that the Bureau would continue to create awareness and build capacities of data protection officers in the country.
“The bureau is currently investigating two banks because of data privacy issues. We realize that it is possible that organisations could have data privacy or protection policies at the very top.
“Sometimes they have third parties and these policies do not go down the strata. We have enforcement, though it is an emerging thing but we still have to create awareness even though ignorance of the law is not an excuse,” he said.
A participant, Patrick Odeh, from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) appreciated the Bureau for the training, adding that the knowledge gained from the training would make them more effective as they handle data issues.
“I believe that what NDPB is trying to do is to ensure that we understand what it takes to be able to manage our records, manage the data, and also put the subject data into consideration,” he said.