President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, lamented that increasing usage of the Internet has caused corresponding rise in threats posed by cyber criminals, online fraudsters and cyber terrorists, who he said, cause tension in the country.

He stated this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while unveiling the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy for 2021.

CityNews Nigeria gathered that the country was currently at a turning point in its history, President Buhari said Nigeria’s young and vibrant population had the potential to exploit Internet revolution in developing the economy and improving national security.

He said Nigeria was also witnessing upsurge in adoption of Internet and social media for almost all aspects of its daily life, and therefore, the Internet or cyberspace had become central and indispensable to national development.

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“That is why, in the past couple of years, our administration has focused 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, National Identity Programme, Treasury Single Account (TSA) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) schemes, among others,” he stated.

Buhari explained that the initiatives serve as enablers for tackling the economic and security challenges in the country, while also providing a platform to improve accountability and transparency in government’s resolve to fight corruption.

“However, like several other countries, significant challenges followed the growth and development of the Internet. We are witnessing increasing threats posed by cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists, who use the Internet to cause apprehension.

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“We are also witnessing an upsurge in the use of the Internet and social media to propagate hate speech, fake news and seditious messages, as well as risks of breaches to personal information and sensitive government data. It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges,” he said.

He pointed out that the emergence of new technologies, outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and 5G technology, have further widened the scope and diversification of the cyber threats.

“In October 2020, we witnessed escalation in use of social media for dissemination of subversive messages and incitement of violence, which heightened tensions, unrest, looting and destruction of property across the country.

“Therefore, in a bid to ensure that we effectively embrace and harness the benefits of digital revolution, while effectively combating rising cyber threats, the Federal Government has been proactive in ensuring progressive use of the Internet and cyberspace,” he added.

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He said the Federal Government developed it maiden National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy in 2014, to provide a roadmap for the realisation of national cyber security programme, adding that the effort paved way for Nigeria to reach some cyber security milestones in the last six years.

“Therefore, to build on this achievement and reposition the country for enhanced engagement in cyberspace, it became necessary to review the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy 2014 and develop a comprehensive National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy 2021 in the interest of the country,” he stressed.