Integrated national data ecosystems include a birth and death registry, residency, immigration, tax-related data, credible national identification management system, assets registration, and land titling – critical national infrastructure in Nigeria.
When Iyabo lost all funds in her savings account after she compromised her debit (or ATM) card PIN, the Nigerian Police informed her that it could not match the fraudster’s facial image on the bank’s automated teller machine. Chief Otunba received the same response after the Nigerian Police lifted fingerprints the kidnappers generously left on his person and mobile device – no integrated fingerprint database.
Similarly, Captain Wazobia, an Armed Forces retiree, died recently, but his wife receives pensions from the authority months after. Adaobi was dejected after she needed help to obtain specific data on residency, rates of marriages and birth, children of school age, and the working population for her proposed laundry and educational services.
Abule inherited land in the village, an area designated as a non-urban area under the Land Use Act but could not use it as collateral in Nigeria’s mainstream credit system.
How about the commercial law that wanted to develop bespoke immigration services but could not access data on the rates of Chinese, Indian, or Lebanese immigrants in Nigeria? Yet, all Nigerian tiers of government must identify Nigerians under their authority. Data is crucial to public governance, safety and security, policies, legislation, business development, and all economic decisions.
Data evolution in Nigeria is progressive but deeply fragmented. Nigeria must specifically develop an integrated data ecosystem and cease benchmarking its policies against more advanced national and global standards. Data processing, aggregation, integration, and intelligence are jealously anti-global. The application of data protection principles admits local nuances and human dispositions.
The Cybercrime Department of the Nigeria Police is aggressively collating cybercrime-related data in silos. Each State Police Command in Nigeria has a criminal record but does not share data sharing with other Commands and agencies. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are unwilling to create a data-exchange platform for law enforcement.
Relying on the Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA) 2023, we submit that the CBN, NIMC, and law enforcement agencies can exchange biometric data directly or through a data exchange platform on matters concerning the digital economy.
The sections define NDPA 2023’s objectives to include strengthening legal regimes for the national digital economy and allowing law enforcement agents – as data processors – to process biometric data for substantial public interest.
Imagining integrated national data ecosystem
We agree with the World Bank Report that establishing a system for effectively managing data resources is a crucial first step in providing a sustainable, secure, and prosperous future. The World Bank Report rightly asserted that the traditional approach to data management is inadequate – data must be shared and used across disciplines, sectors, and platforms to transition to a truly digital society that contributes to economic growth and prosperity.
Each State Police Command in Nigeria has a criminal record but does not share data sharing with other Commands and agencies
Birth and death registration in Nigeria
National Population Commission (NPC) operates Nigeria’s birth and death registrations in silos through a paper-based process in its offices in public hospitals and accredited birth registration centres. Although NPC is authorized to register death, no government benefits or services are conditioned on death registration. Probate services require a death certificate and death registration.
Business Day reported in November 2022 that NPC sought ₦532.7 billion for the 2023 national census. According to Business Day’s 6th July 2023, the NPC asked the Nigerian President for an additional ₦225.2b for the 2023 census.
The national census must leverage an integrated data ecosystem, and the funds NPC has spent on planning the 2023 census can implement integrated national data ecosystems.
A national statistical system for birth and death registration should be centralized, accessible, and solution and benefit-driven to promote integrated and intelligent data.
Residency, immigration, identification, and assets registration
Nigeria’s digital economy policy and strategy depend on integrated national data ecosystems. A well-implemented nationally integrated data ecosystem fits Nigeria’s three-tiered government system like a latex glove.
Nationally integrated data that shows residency, immigration, credible national identification system, assets registration, and land titling ensures identification, security, assets tracing, business forecast, product or service development, legislation, and policymaking such as government subsidy or cross-subsidy.
We emphasize a credible national identification system because we have seen an American child by birth, born of a Nigerian mother and Dutch father, with a Nigerian national identity number.
Concerning land titling, over 40% of lands in Nigeria are in non-urban areas. Poor land titling system hinders financial inclusion and economic integration.
A nationally integrated data ecosystem is critical to efficient tax drives and inclusion. Without an integrated national data ecosystem, fighting corruption, banditry, terrorism, terrorism financing, voter registration, and credible electoral system nosedives into physical exertion and subversion.
Concluding, data spaces exist in Turkey’s manufacturing sector. It provides an environment where stakeholders can safely, securely, and self-determinedly share and use data with other organizations or agencies.
Pending a specific legal regime, the Nigerian Data Protection Commission is empowered to regulate “data spaces” and promote data sharing among ministries, departments, governments, agencies, and the private sector.
Enwe, partner, Fintech, retail, and education law at SRJ. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org