NITDA Bill 2021 ‘ll Help Nigeria Harness Benefits of Global Digital Economy – Editor
The Managing Editor of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, Mr. Abdulrahman Abdulraheem, has explained why the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari must speedily pass and assent the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA Bill 2021.
According to him, once the Bill is passed into law, NITDA Act 2021 will catalyse the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy.
“It will also provide an adequate legal framework for Nigeria to tap into the potential of the global digital economy,” he said.
Abdulraheem disclosed this in a paper titled, “Global Reality and Digital Inclusion – NITDA Bill 2021 in Focus,” which he presented at a ‘Digital Journalism and Fact-Checking Workshop’ in Lagos State on Monday.
The workshop, organised by NITDA in collaboratiom with the Nigerian Union of Journalism was facilitated by Image Merchants Promotion Ltd, the publishers of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential.
The workshop themed: “Imperative of Digital News Verification for 2023 Elections’ was attended by journalists from across several television, radio, newspaper and online media platforms as participants.
Despite the accelerated growth of Nigeria’s Information Communication Technology, ICT, sector, Abdulraheem observed that digital economy presents a number of unique challenges and opportunities that may not be adequately addressed by existing regulatory frameworks.
He said: “For example, the rapid pace of technological change in the digital economy may require NITDA to be more flexible and responsive in its regulatory approach.”
Mr. Abdulraheem, argued that “amending the law establishing NITDA to enable the agency effectively regulates Nigeria’s digital economy would help to ensure that the agency has the necessary powers and resources to carry out this important function.”
His words: “This could include, for example, the authority to set standards and guidelines specifically tailored to the needs of the digital economy, or the ability to investigate and enforce penalties for noncompliance.”
Talking about the alleged rift or overlapping of functions between NITDA and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr Abdulraheem argued that NITDA Bill 2021 does not infringe on the independence of the NCC in any way.
He added that it is global best practice to have the two agencies working independently and performing their respective regulatory functions, adding that the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have agencies performing the roles of NITDA and NCC without any clash.
“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the main regulatory body for telecommunications in the US, while the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for developing standards and guidelines for the use of IT in the country,” he noted.
Earlier, Mal. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General of NITDA, who was represented by Haj. Hadiza Umar, the agency’s spokesperson, restated NITDA’s commitment to the expansion of the digital space, development of journalists’ human capital and the promotion of robust digital-based journalism, that serves the best and wider interest of the nation.
“There’s no doubting the fact that we are in the digital age where everything is now based on computers and the internet.
“It is of interest to us therefore that our journalists take advantage of the available digital tools to do their jobs better and serve the country better,” he said.
Inuwa noted that learning how to do fact-checks will help media professionals carry out due diligence on any information that comes to them, while also stemming the tide of fake news.
Speaking at the event, National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzo, sought the adoption of ‘Global Ethics Charter for Journalists’ by media professionals in the country.
Ahead of the 2023 polls and proliferation of fake news, Mr. Isiguzo said that although experts believe fake news is one of the greatest threats to democracy, free debate and good governance, it is journalism or information that deliberately misleads people and distorts reality by spreading false information, hoaxes, propaganda or misrepresentation of facts