Gbenga Sesan Accuse Senate Committee of Misrepresentation in Support of Controversial NITDA Bill

In a shocking revelation, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan has accused the Nigerian Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Security of falsely claiming that the majority of memoranda presented at its Public Hearing supported the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Repeal and Enactment Bill (SB 1082). According to a detailed report, the committee manipulated the numbers and misrepresented the support for the controversial bill.

Gbenga Sesan, ED, Paradigm Initiative

“The committee’s report indicated that out of the memoranda submitted, seventeen (17) organizations were in favor of the bill, while fourteen opposed it. However, a careful analysis of the report revealed that the committee deliberately repeated the names of three organizations, raising concerns about their intentions. Specifically, organizations numbered i and xvii, iii and xv, and vi and xvi were duplicated. This deliberate inclusion of repeated names on the list is deeply troubling.

Furthermore, when cross-referencing the list of supporting organizations on page 5 of the committee’s report with the comprehensive list of all organizations that submitted memos on pages 2 and 3, it becomes evident that three organizations—Sustainable Initiative for Nurturing Growth (SING), Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR), and Schoola IT Central—were added again at the end of the list to tilt the balance in favor of supporting memos. This manipulation was seemingly done to create the impression of more support for the bill than there actually was.

The committee’s conduct raises serious questions about its integrity and the motives behind misrepresenting the stakeholders’ positions. The report clearly shows that out of the 31 organizations listed as stakeholders who submitted memoranda, seventeen (17) opposed the SB 1082 bill. Therefore, the committee’s claim of only fourteen opposing organizations is inaccurate and misleading.

Another glaring discrepancy is that while the committee included extracts from 14 out of the 17 memos opposing the bill in its report (pages 5 to 19), the supporting memos were merely listed without any elaboration or explanation. This lack of transparency raises doubts about the actual content of these supporting memos and how they justify the need for the bill.

Given these revelations, concerned individuals are urging the distinguished members of the Senate, including its leadership, to hold the committee accountable and demand answers regarding their deceptive actions. Similarly, members of the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, are being called upon to investigate why a bill rejected by the target industry, industry associations, civil society, law firms, and relevant government agencies is being forced through the legislative process.

The various ICT industry associations in Nigeria are being urged to unite and take a stand against the bill. Associations such as the Nigeria Computer Society, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria are being called upon to resist attempts to undermine the progress achieved by the ICT sector, which has significantly contributed to Nigeria’s economy.

The critical question that arises from these revelations is why Minister Isa Pantami and the committee, led by Senator Oseni, are so determined to force the National Information Technology Development Agency Act (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill 2023 on Nigerians. The deliberate misrepresentation of numbers and the exaggeration of support cast doubts on the motives behind this push. It is imperative for policymakers and legislators to respect the overwhelming opposition expressed by stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, government, and the media.”

As the details of this controversy continue to unfold, it is clear that the actions of the Senate Committee on ICT and Cyber Security have undermined the trust and credibility of the legislative process. The Nigerian public and the concerned stakeholders demand transparency, accountability, and adherence to the democratic tenets.

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