- The Senate is about to pass the controversial NITDA bill following the recommendations of its Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity.
- The Committee said 17 out of 31 stakeholders that made submissions during the public hearings were in support of the bill.
- It, however, admitted that some stakeholders feared that the bill, if passed into law, could cause duplicity of regulatory functions and multiple regulations.
The Nigerian Senate is set to pass the controversial bill seeking to change the status of the National Development Agency (NITDA) from a development agency to a regulator of the ICT industry. This is coming in spite of strong opposition to the bill by major industry stakeholders during public hearings.
The Senate Committee on ICT and Cybersecurity in its report to the Senate recommended that the bill be passed, adding that 17 out of 31 stakeholders that made submissions during the public hearings were in support of it.
The committee, however, admitted that those opposed to the bill advanced various reasons “such as multiple or overtaxation, overlap/duplication of functions, multiple regulators and regulations, and uncontrolled punitive authority of the agency.”
Highlighting its observations in the report, the Committee, while commending all stakeholders for their inputs, said it observed the following in the course of the public hearings:
- “Section 6(a) of the existing Act provides that NITDA is both a development and regulatory agency in the ICT sector. Arguments that NITDA is not a regulator were therefore noted to be incorrect, and, that a total of thirty-one (31) stakeholders made submissions/presentations on the bill.
- “Out of this number, seventeen (17) were in support of the bill, while fourteen (14) were opposed to it. Those in favour based their support on the reasons that the bill provided for the development of measures that would adequately regulate digital infrastructure, fast-track Nigeria’s transition into a leading digital economy, foster innovation and creativity, empower businesses in the country, improve the processes of issuing and authenticating good character certificates, and promote the use of technology in education and other sectors.”
Recommendation for passage
The committee, in its recommendations to the Senate, said the bill should be passed after considering the comments and opinions of stakeholders.
- “Mr. President, Distinguished colleagues, having taken into consideration the observations and comments of relevant stakeholders as well as the opinions of Distinguished Senators during the Second Reading and the Public Hearing on various provisions of the Bill, and having made amendments as necessary, the Committee hereby recommends as follows:
- “That the Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Security, which was referred A Bill For An Act To Repeal The National Information Technology Development Agency Act No. 28, 2007 and Enact the National Information Technology Development Agency Act to Provide the Administration, Implementation, and Regulation of Information Technology Systems and Practices as well as the Digital Economy in Nigeria and For Related Matters, 2023 (SB1082), having considered the same, report favourably thereon and recommend that the Senate pass the Bill as amended,” the Committee stated in its report.
Stakeholders’ stance on Bill
Key stakeholders in the ICT industry, including the Computer Professionals Council of Nigeria (CPN), the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), and the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), among others, have all condemned the NITDA Bill, saying it was an attempt to usurp the powers of other regulators and make NITDA a ‘super regulator’ in the ICT industry.
Earlier this week, the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) urged the Federal Government to withdraw the NITDA Bill from the National Assembly.
At a news conference, President of the NCS, Prof. Adesina Sodiya, said the bill lacked stakeholders’ input and was hurriedly put together by vested interests. According to him, some stakeholders had condemned the bill for attempting to arrogate the powers of other government agencies to NITDA.
He said the NCS got to know from social media that the bill was being proposed, and it had gotten to an advanced stage by the time the society got the information.
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