From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has raised the alarm that the growth and development of internet have caused a rise in the threats posed by cyber criminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists.
He made the observation on Monday in Abuja when he unveiled the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy 2021.
While noting that the development has raised apprehension, Buhari said the nation is currently at a turning point in its history, stating that Nigeria is blessed with a young and vibrant population with the potential to exploit benefits of the Internet revolution to enhance the nation’s economic progression and improve national security.
He said the cyberspace is now central and indispensable to national development, hence 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.
President Buhari said this is why over the past couple of years, his administration has focused its efforts on driving several Information and Communications Technology (ICT) initiatives.
He listed some of the initiatives to include, National Broadband Plan (NBP) 2020 to 2025, launched in March 2020 to increase Internet broadband penetration across Nigeria, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020 to 2030, the National Identity Programme, Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) schemes.
Buhari said these initiatives serve as enablers for tackling myriad of economic and security challenges facing the country while also providing it with a platform to improve accountability and transparency in the government’s unwavering resolve to tackle corruption.
“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 cyber criminals, 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 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 we effectively embrace and harness the benefits of the digital revolution while effectively combating the heightening risks of cyber threats, the Federal Government has been proactive, over the past couple of years, in taking steps to ensure progressive use of our Internet and cyberspace.”
He commended the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno’s efforts and his staff as well as other stakeholders for “the remarkable work in developing the document and contributions towards strengthening the development of cyber security in Nigeria.”