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Digital economy, stakeholders call for strategic engagement on cybersecurity

Felix Oloyede

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The Nigerian Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Mongunu and others have called for strategic stakeholders engagement and increased digital infrastructure to safeguard the country’s digital economy from cybercriminals.

They made the call in Abuja on Tuesday, at the Stakeholders Conference on Digital Technology and Cybersecurity with the Theme: “The Digital Theatre and the Future of Nigeria”

Speaking at the event, the Nigerian Senate President, Ahmed Lawan , was represented by Senator Hassan Hadejia. Stressed that cybersecurity issues have emerged as a by-product of the revolution, resulting in the need to devise ways of mitigating or containing its threat.

“This is in line with the tendencies of inventions to come with weaknesses, which society has to respond to in order to enhance the chances of a seamless application.”

New realities of threat and a growing trend of misconduct have characterised the evolution of systems.

“The growth of digital technology has not been different, and which is why we are today talking about resolving the question of cybersecurity in the nation’s interest.”

Protect The Future

According to Lawan, “As a result of this, the Senate resolved through its motion that, “The Growth of Digital Technology and the Challenge of Cybercrime; there is urgent need to safeguard the future of Nigeria” and decided that its committee on ICT and Cybercrime should liaise with stakeholders on how best to protect the future, faced with threats of cybersecurity.

He pledged the support of the Senate to suggestions that would further enhance legislative actions where necessary.

Meanwhile, the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard affirmed that America is;
“Ensuring a policy, institutional, organizational, and infrastructural ecosystem that supports the effective mitigation of and response to cybersecurity threats will enable Nigeria to seize the opportunities to best protect its citizens,
boost global efforts to combat cybercrime, stay on the cutting edge of digital security and promote local production and capacity building.

“As Nigeria looks toward a future of greater economic diversification,
growth, and inclusion, the United States will continue to partner with Nigeria to further catalyze this country’s entrepreneurial, innovative spirit, harness its significant market size, and help realize the potential of its young and creative population,” She said.

Also, Chairman Senate Committee on ICT and Cybercrime, Dr.Yakubu Oseni also lend his voice to the call when he affirmed that Digital Technology is the pivot for the transformation of economies but however decried the increased rate of cybercrime in the country.

“ICT has become the key infrastructure. It also promises to make the world a much safer place, as it is now the major vehicle for security surveillance and investigation.

“It regrettable that criminal elements around the world have chosen to turn the ICT revolution into a nightmare. The gains of digital technology are being dampened by the rapid evolution of the cybersecurity threat landscape. Cyber attacks are increasing in both sophistication and severity.

“Hence, the dangerous trend is already costing the world huge losses in all dimensionsFindings have further revealed that in Nigeria, the challenge in not only about the cybersecurity threat landscape, but also about weak systems.

“There is a serious lag in infrastructure sophistication, data management and digital security and knowhow, which are critical to the development agenda. Our economy is already suffering hugely from cyber-related crimes, though most of these attacks go unreported for fear of public anxiety and apprehension,” he stated.

Senator Useni noted Fresh experiences arising from the Covid-19 pandemic have further exposed stunning gaps in the digital and cyber ecosystem, thereby exposing a wider yearning for accelerated mitigation efforts.

He reiterated that Cybersecurity was all about balancing between security and quality of life. “Any activity geared towards keeping a safe cyber ecosystem today is therefore as important as life itself. I, therefore, commend all stakeholders who support cyber-safe initiatives.”

“It is therefore ardent that all stakeholders should have their hands on deck to protect our dear country from this increasingly rampaging menace. Indeed, this has become a paramount concern. In view of this concern, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has repeatedly urged all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to rise to the occasion of mitigating the menace. “

He applauded the Office of the National Security Adviser which is currently embarking on multi-sectorial awareness and sensitisation campaigns on the implementation of the 2021 National Cybersecurity Policy and Strategy and the initiative taken by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to towards the advancement of the Nigeria Project.

The National Security Adviser, (NSA) Babagana Mongunu who was represented by the Director of Communications Office of the NSA, advocated for capacity building, awareness and sensitisation programmes, Research and Development and collaborative efforts to curb cybercrime.

“There is a need for capacity Building to support cyber security in the country, continuous awareness and sensitisation programme, adoption of cyber rules, cyber hygiene and attitude, basic roles and responsibilities that exist.

“Also, Research and development; there is the need to explore indigenous and innovative technology and reduce over-dependence on only foreign tech and will reduce vulnerability, backdoor, footprint and treat. And lastly collaborative, confidentiality, trust and information sharing” He emphasised

The Director-General National Information, (NITDA), Mr Kashifu Abdullahi, was represented by the Head of Legal Unit NITDA, Mr Emmanuel Edet. Said NITDA is ensuring that they use IT to develop the economy in Nigeria and while doing that, we cannot ignore the dangers which include cybercrime and insecurity.

“Nigeria ranks 35 on doing e-business globally and while we are at it, we need safe cyberspace,” he stated.

The Conference is expected to identify gaps inherent in the system, create awareness, build capacity, generate appropriate synergy in the relationships of stakeholders, and provide inputs for legislation.

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