Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA) of Nigeria outlines cyber threats confronting the country and efforts underway to secure the nation’s cyberspace.
It is a honour and privilege for me to deliver these remarks today, on this auspicious occasion of the formal launch of Nigeria’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021. There is no gainsaying that our country is presently witnessing a surge in digital transformation. Many new activities have now migrated to the Internet especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advent of the 5G technology. Consequently, Nigeria’s cyberspace has become a centre stage for governance, new business innovations, communications and social interactions. This trend has created an opportunity for us to redefine our national objectives and address some of the major developmental challenges currently facing the country.
The current massive growth of the Internet and social media provides the platform for us to fully exploit the potentials of our young and vibrant population, our proactive private sector and our adept academia to fast-track our national economic development. The cyber revolution also creates the nexus for us to effectively synchronise the efforts of our security and law enforcement agencies towards curbing crime, irregular migration, human trafficking and arms proliferation amongst others while improving road safety and border security and enhancing ongoing anti-banditry, anti-militancy and counter-insurgency operations.
‘Many new activities have now migrated to the Internet especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the advent of the 5G technology‘
Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA) of Nigeria
However, the ongoing rapid expansion of our cyberspace, especially the Internet and social media, has widened the scope of cyber threats facing the country. Our country is now confronted with increasing threats of cyber attacks on Critical National Infrastructure including our telecommunications systems, banking platforms, military networks, transportation systems, national databases and other critical assets in the country. Furthermore, we are witnessing a rise in the spread of fake news and hate speech over the social media, as well as propagation of seditious messages by subversive elements looking to disrupt the unity and wellbeing of the country. Some of these threats were exemplified during the recent events of October of last year.
We are also currently seeing an escalation in online financial scams and fraud perpetrated by some nefarious individuals and groups within and outside the country which is persistently denting our international image. These threats are coupled with other risks ranging from defacement of government websites and social media platforms, to breaches of sensitive personal data and confidential government communications, as well as terrorists use of the Internet for recruitment and propaganda. We have also observed a recent rise in the launch of online radio broadcasting stations by unscrupulous elements for disinformation and to incite violence and cause apprehension. These issues brought to fore the dire need to develop proactive measures to enhance the security of our cyberspace. Our recognition of cyberspace as the Fifth Domain of warfare, as globally endorsed, further exacerbates the criticality of enhancing our readiness to defend and protect the integrity of our cyber domain.
Against this backdrop, on behalf of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, on 10 September 2020 the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in line with its mandate, convened a multi-stakeholder committee comprising representatives from various sectors of the Nigerian economy to review the current National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2014 and produce a comprehensive 2021 version. The purpose of the review was to identify gaps and proffer initiatives to address emerging cyber threats and ensure that our cyberspace is effectively exploited to enhance our national and economic security. The new National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 is expected to address the nation’s cybersecurity challenges, boost readiness for global cybersecurity collaborations, enhance national digital economic competitiveness, improve indigenous technology development, safeguard our Critical National Infrastructure, and ensure the protection of our cyberspace from cyber attacks, online fraud and other related illicit activities including fake news and hate speech. The document also reflects global norms and is expected to foster cooperation with our international allies in the areas of security and economic development. It will serve as a strategic roadmap for all stakeholders, including Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, private sector, academia, professional bodies and global partners, to come together and drive the attainment of Nigeria’s cybersecurity objectives. State Governments across the country also have a crucial role to play in ensuring that Nigeria’s cyberspace is used to enhance our national security and economic progression.
To this end, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) will continue to coordinate efforts of stakeholders and monitor the implementation of the strategies proffered in the document, in line with the provisions of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015, and according to global best practices. I am confident that the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 will serve as a sustainable instrument to guide the actions of all stakeholders and pave way for the use of the cyber domain for the realisation of Nigeria’s national objectives. The next major steps would entail the implementation of the key strategies and action plans proffered in the document. Central to this is the establishment and operationalisation of the National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre (NCCC) which is expected to set the ball rolling for the execution of other initiatives proffered in the document. Efforts to get the Centre up and running are already ongoing.
At this juncture, I would like to express the profound and most sincere gratitude of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to Your Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR for the unflinching support and unrelenting effort in ensuring that Nigeria continues to move forward. I also want to sincerely thank all stakeholders for the cooperation and contributions towards making the formulation of the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 a resounding success. With these words, it is a honour and privilege for me to humbly invite His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR to formally unveil the National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021. Your Excellency Sir.
Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), National Security Adviser (NSA) of Nigeria, made this presentation at the formal launch of Nigeria’s National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy 2021 held February 23, 2021, in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory.