..Unveils Cyber Security Strategy

President Muhammadu Buhari has instructed a proper coordination of the national strategy on cyber security, with a new approach focusing on exploring the internet for economic growth opportunities, enhancement of knowledge and mitigation of crime.

The President, who spoke on Monday at the launch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021, held at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa Abuja, also observed that the growth and development of the internet has caused a rise in the threats posed by cyber criminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists who he said are causing apprehension in the country.

The president said Nigeria is blessed with a young and vibrant population, which has the potential to exploit the benefits of the current internet revolution to enhance the nation’s economic progression and improve our national security.

“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.

“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,” he said.

He added that the country is also witnessing a rapid surge in its adoption of the internet and social media for almost all aspects of its daily life, and therefore, the internet or cyberspace is now central and indispensable to our national development.

The president said that is why over the past couple of years, his administration has focused its efforts on several Information and Communications Technology (ICT) driven initiatives.

According to him, some of these include; the National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020 – 2025 launched in March 2020 to increase Internet broadband penetration across Nigeria, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 – 2030, the National Identity Program, Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) schemes, amongst others.

Buhari explained that all these initiatives serve as enablers for tackling the myriad of economic and security challenges facing the country while also providing it with the platform to improve accountability and transparency in our unwavering resolve to tackle corruption.

He added: “However, like several 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.

“We are also observing a surge in the use of the Internet and social media for propagation of hate speech, fake news and seditious 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.

“Therefore, in a bid to ensure that we effectively embrace and harness the benefits of the digital revolution while effectively combating the heightening risks of cyber threats, the Federal Government of Nigeria has been proactive, over the past couple of years, in taking steps to ensure progressive use of our Internet and cyberspace.

“In 2014, we developed our maiden National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy to provide us with 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 6 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 the country.

“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 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 youths and supporting our resolve to alleviate poverty and boost our economy.”

President Buhari noted that the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 signifies the rejuvenation and renewal of his promise and commitment to Nigeria’s national security and economic prosperity and it ensures that Nigeria’s National Cybersecurity Programme is prioritized among other national exigencies in my administration.

“I therefore unveil the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 as the overarching policy and strategy framework for driving Nigeria’s cybersecurity efforts towards the attainment of our national objectives,” he declared.

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.

Speaking to the State House Correspondents after the launch, the Chairman of NCPS 2021 Review Committee, Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, the document was just launched was the output of an in-depth, extensive multi-stakeholder effort, which incorporates global trends and best practice, as well as the peculiarities of our environment.

According to him, “through its 8 Pillars, the new policy and strategy focuses on leveraging jobs creation opportunities in the estimated $4.5 billion African Cybersecurity market; enhancing Federal Government anticorruption capacity by addressing new virtual assets that aid money laundering; and deploying new tools that deny terrorists propaganda platforms and improve the capacity of security agencies to bring criminals to justice.

“The document caters for the cybersecurity needs of all socio-economic strata including Malam Mai Shai, Mama Okpa, Mama Alakara and the roadside vulcaniser who now rely more on digital services, as well as our young innovators, technocrats, and ultra-high decision makers.

“In addition, we considered imminent digital threats to our sovereignty, economy, governance and security like digital currencies, abuse of social media, disruptive outer-space platforms and evolving global cyber-norms amongst others,” he said.

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