Use internet for national security, economic progress - PMB


  From Femi Adesina

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja called for an overhaul of the national strategy on cyber security, urging more emphasis on exploring the internet for economic growth opportunities, enhancement of knowledge and mitigation of crime.

 “I urge the National Security Adviser to continue to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to ensure that our Internet and cyberspace  are used   for   the   enhancement   of   national   security   and   economic progression,’’ the President said at the launch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021.

“I am confident that, together, we can pave the way for the creation of new opportunities to usher Nigeria into a bright future driven by a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy.’’

The President noted that the Federal Government had taken some major policy decisions to increase penetration of the internet in the daily lives of citizens, particularly for the utilitarian purpose, with launch of National Broadband Plan 2020 – 2025 in March 2020; National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 – 2030; National Identity Program, Treasury Single Account and  Bank Verification Number schemes.

“All   these   initiatives   serve   as   enablers   for   tackling     many of the economic and security challenges facing our country while also providing us with the platform to improve accountability and transparency in our unwavering resolve to tackle corruption.

“However, like many other countries across the globe, the growth and development of the internet is accompanied by significant problems. We   are   witnessing   a   rise   in   threats   posed   by   cybercriminals,   online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists who use the internet to cause apprehension,’’ the President said.

He added that the internet and social media have witnessed a surge for propagation of hate speech, fake news, seditious and treasonable messages, as well as the risks of breaches to personal information and government sensitive data.

“It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges. Some global events such as the rapid emergence of new technologies, the outbreak of   the   COVID-19   pandemic   and   the   advent   of   5G technology, have further widened the scope and diversification of these cyber threats.

“In October 2020, we all witnessed an escalation in the use of the social media for dissemination of subversive messages and incitement of violence which played a part in heightening tensions, causing unrest and   spurring   widespread   acts   of   looting   and   destruction   across   the country.’’

President Buhari said the Federal Government had been proactive,   over   the   past   couple   of   years,   in   taking steps to ensure progressive use of internet and cyberspace.

“In 2014, the maiden National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy was developed to provide the necessary roadmap for the realisation of our national cybersecurity programme. This national effort paved way for Nigeria to reach numerous   cybersecurity   milestones   over   the   past    six years.

“Therefore,  in   order  to  build  on   this   achievement   and  reposition ourselves for enhanced engagement in cyberspace, it became expedient to   review   the   National   Cybersecurity   Policy   and   Strategy   2014   and develop  a  comprehensive  National   Cybersecurity  Policy  and   Strategy 2021 for the common good of our country.’’

According to the President, the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 will provide us with the necessary platform to effectively confront the dynamic nature of   threats   in   our   cyberspace.  

“The   document   will   also   provide   the framework that would enable us to harness the efforts of our private sector,   academia   and   industry   towards   progressive   economic   and national development.

“To this end, the document will provide the platform for technical education,   digital   skills   acquisition   and   indigenous  technology production,   thereby   creating   job   opportunities   for   our   youth   and supporting our resolve to alleviate poverty and boost our economy.’’

In his remarks at the event, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), said there had been a surge in the use of the internet, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown around the world, with increasing waves of crimes, irregular migration and threats to border security.

The NSA noted that many platforms including banking, communication and military had come under more threat, with personal information easily distorted and explored, necessitating a review of the 2014 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS).

He said the reviewed document will work towards mitigating the “suffocating presence and unpredictable threats’’ of cybercrimes.

Femi Adesina is the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.

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