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Cybersecurity: President Buhari on ‘ensuring progressive internet use in Nigeria’

Cybersecurity: President Buhari on ‘ensuring progressive internet use in Nigeria’
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President Muhammadu Buhari outlines Nigeria’s cybersecurity plans to “ensure progressive use of our internet and cyberspace.”

Our country is currently at a turning point in its history. We are blessed with a young and vibrant population which has the potential to exploit the benefits of the current Internet revolution to enhance our economic progression and improve our national security. We are also witnessing a rapid surge in our adoption of the Internet and social media for almost all aspects of our daily life. Therefore, there is no argument that the Internet or cyberspace is now central and indispensable to our national development.  

For these reasons, over the past couple of years, my Administration has focused its efforts on several Information and Communications Technology (ICT) driven initiatives. 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. All these initiatives serve as enablers for tackling the myriad of 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.   

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Internet growth accompanied by significant problems, says President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, seen in file photo above

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.

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. 

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria

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.   

The National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 signifies the rejuvenation and renewal of my promise and commitment to Nigeria’s national security and economic prosperity and it ensures that our 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.

Let me use this opportunity to commend the efforts of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and his staff as well as other stakeholders for the remarkable work in developing the document and contributions towards strengthening the development of cybersecurity in Nigeria. I urge the National Security Adviser (NSA) 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 path for the creation of new opportunities to usher Nigeria into a bright future driven by a prosperous cyberspace and digital economy.

Thank you very much and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.   

Editor’s Note

President Muhammdu Buhari delivered this speech during the launching of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 held on February 23, 2021 in Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

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