President Muhammadu Buhari has attributed the surge in killings, kidnappings, and other criminalities across Nigeria to the unrestricted use of cyberspace, urging more emphasis on exploring the cyberspace for economic opportunities, enhancement of knowledge, and mitigation of crime.
Buhari added that stakeholders must ensure that the country’s cyberspace remain an avenue, not for propagation of crimes particularly kidnapping, and other illegal actions, but must be used for enhancement of national security and economic progression of the country.
The President, who stated this at launch of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy (NCPS) 2021, on Tuesday at the Aso Villa, Abuja, said that the cyberspace has potentials to create new opportunities and strengthen the country’s abilities to get more money through the digital economy.
He noted that Nigeria, like many other countries across the globe, have witnessed the growth and development of the internet but the achievement has been accompanied by significant problems.
Buhari said: “We are witnessing a rise in threats posed by cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters, and cyber terrorists who use the internet to cause apprehension”.
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”.
The president stated that 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 him, 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.’’
Earlier, the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd), noted that 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.
Monguno added 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).
The national security adviser, said the reviewed document will work towards mitigating the “suffocating presence and unpredictable threats’’ of cybercrimes.