The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has signed Nigeria up for the membership of Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO), a group that includes strictly Islamic countries.
He, however, did not throw the matter up for public debate in Nigeria, where a virtually equal number of Muslims and Christians would have properly looked at the implication of the country’s membership before taking a decision
In a chain of key objectives listed on its website, DCO said its first aim was to collect and share data across the member countries towards digital economic prosperity.
The DCO listed its membership countries as the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sultanate of Oman, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, noting that the countries were brought together because of their common “vision, strategic goals, and shared values.”
The body said it aimed to optimise “policy and regulatory frameworks to expand cross-border data flows and digital trade among DCO members.” Other potential benefits of the group include a plan to “reduce the digital divide across the DCO” and also to “align approaches to engagement and negotiations with private sector actors.”
Pantami disclosed Nigeria’s intention to join the organisation in April, but did not provide further details to guide Nigerians on the benefits of the alliance.
The decision has unsettled some Nigerians online, who said it was suspicious that a minister with a proven history of extremist views would seek to drag a secular Nigeria into an alliance of Muslim countries.
“I can’t recollect any public stakeholder consultation on this matter. No matter how hard you try to spin it, a minister with extremist antecedents signing Nigeria up for a group that comprises only Islamic countries is going to be viewed more about religion than the economy,” Amara Nwankpa, a policy expert based in Abuja, said on Twitter Wednesday morning.