As the Office of the National Security Adviser begins moves to check cybercrime, which has over the years given Nigeria away as a community of fraudsters, Raheem Akingbolu sees the step as a good approach to fixing the country's battered image.
Among other issues, cybercrime and insurgency in the northern part of the country are currently puncturing the image of Nigeria. Within and outside the country, the ugly situation is causing embarrassment for citizens at both social and business gatherings.
Following the international attention the abduction of the school girls in Chibok, Bornu State attracted, the Federal government recently mooted the idea of hiring a foreign perception management consulting firm to address the issue but most Nigerians, especially top marketing communication practitioners kicked against it.
At a recent private engagement with the media, Sambo Dasuki, the Chief Security Adviser in the presidency, pointed out that the terrorists have succeeded in changing the way Nigerians see and relate with one another, arguing that the only way to defeat them is for all to remain united in constructive engagements and mutual dialogues and confront the threat as one nation under God.
Concerned about the alarming widespread growth of cybercrime which is adversely affecting nations across the globe, Dasuki had advocated proactive approach to tackle the increasing cybercrime due to the fastest growing technology tools being used by criminals.
Dasuki who was speaking at the First National Cybersecurity Forum in Lagos said the abnormal trend is denting Nigerian image and those of many nations.
According to him, "Realising the importance of cyber space, the Federal Government of Nigeria has designated cyber security as a national security priority with the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) stepping up efforts towards meeting the challenge by working in close collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure a safer and more secure cyberspace."
He added that experiences from other jurisdictions have shown that success of national cybersecurity initiatives can best be achieved by adopting a coordinated and integrated approach encompassing Law; Technology; Institutional Capacity Building; Private Sector Partnership (PPP) and International Law Enforcement Cooperation.
NSA functions The Office of the National Security Adviser is empowered to advise the President on matters concerning the intelligence activities of the national security agencies. The NSA is therefore responsible for distilling the collective material amassed by the various agencies and bringing them to the attention of the President.
He also made recommendations in relation to the activities of the intelligence and security agencies to the President as contingencies may warrant. The influential role is limited to the fact that it doesn't allow the NSA to place boots on the ground, other relevant agencies are mandated to execute.
While past occupiers of that office were outspoken on various national issues, the current NSA, Mohammed Sambo Dasuki seems to be delegating or allowing respective and relevant officers and agencies do the talking and take the action. This according to a source closed to his office explains why he hardly addresses the press in media chats, press conferences or interviews.
It is in view of this, for instance, that he facilitates existence of some structures for regular interface with the media towards better understanding of national security include the Forum of Spokespersons on Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA), chaired by the Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade and National Information Centre, under the leadership of Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri. Some of these platforms have reduced to the barest minimum the occasional interagency rivalries.
A believer in constructive and sometimes intellectual engagements, Dasuki has continued to promote dialogues through conferences and summit towards proffering solutions to lingering security crises in the country while ensuring that security agencies remain focus in maintain law and order in the country.
Cyber security forum In an effort to address the growing fear on cyberspace and online engagement, Sambo Dasuki recently gathered critical stakeholders to the First National Cybersecurity Forum in Lagos to harness their input into the policy framework on cybersecurity. The participants from the public and private sectors including NGOs and the media build a national consensus on National Cybersecurity Roadmap and facilitated a unified e-security foundation for Digital Nigeria through a coordinated effort.
The event was said to have been deliberately planned to secure the cooperation, understanding and the support of other critical government agencies and stakeholders, which will help to prevent disjointed policy document, as well as achieving a coherent and all-inclusive Strategy in which all other similar cybersecurity undertaken in the country will be infused into the overall framework of the National Cybersecurity Policy.
It was also disclosed at the forum that the office recently hosted an international conference on security and development challenges in West and Central Africa due to activities of Fulani nomadic.
The event which was held in Kaduna with the theme "The Role of Pastoralists in Preventing Insurgency and Conflicts for enhanced National Security," was said to have drew critical stakeholders, top representatives of Fulani nomads, farmers along grazing reserve and scholars to a roundtable where they identify key challenges facing communities affected by pastoralists and their consequences on national security.
The forum provided a medium in achieving synergy among stakeholders and security agencies to tackle the menace of terrorism, insurgency, cattle rustling, command clashes and threat to national security.
Human right abuses In a related development, while addressing the allegations of human rights abuses and proportionality of military response to crises situations, he organised international seminar on the Imperatives of the Observance of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Norms in Internal Security Operations for military, law enforcement officers and legal practitioners.
It is in conviction that frequent sensitisation will go a long way to encourage the armed forces to imbibe these norms and promote voluntary compliance to the observance of appropriate rules of engagement which has been institutionalised in the training of members of the armed forces.
Protection of youths To tackle the case of vulnerable children and youth being coerced into criminal activities and insurgency, the National Security Adviser was also said to have proposed Soft-Approach against Insurgency.
The counter radicalisation approach seeks to build community engagement and resilience through building trust, creating awareness and resilience by partnering with faith based organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders to deliver counter radicalization programs at community levels.
It is believed that the platforms will create opportunities for conversation amongst the people, create nonviolent conflict resolution mechanisms and make it easier for youths in the affected societies to find answers to the questions that bother them the most.
The educational component of the programme is to be deployed to counter violent extremism. Youths are to be mentored and nurtured through multiple platforms such as sports, arts, music, literature, history, leadership and service.
The educational environment or schools for the programme would be a place where children go to learn about diversity, tolerance, and how to commune with those of different faiths and ethnicities. Once they are kept busy on inquisitive, creative, imaginative and productive engagements, devilish thinking and evil-adventures would cross their minds.
Regional developmental plan Meanwhile the economic component can be described as superb if it is implemented. The ONSA recently developped a joint regional redevelopment plan which would serve as the foundation for a federal-state partnership to revitalise the North-East region's economy. An inter-ministerial committee consisting of the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), development partners are working with affected region under the aegis of the Presidential Initiative for the Northeast (PINE).
Rather than engaged in unnecessarily political bickering, the CSA seems to have taken an honourable path of humility and perseverance. A clear example was the recent apology he tendered to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Tambuwal who was allegedly harassed by security personnel while attending a programmed organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser in Kaduna.
In order to reflect a more cogent approach towards a more secure cyberspace in Nigeria in line with international baseline standard and global best practice, the Office of the National Security Adviser has been pursuing a number of initiatives including the development of a National Cybersecurity Policy and strategy for Nigeria. It also drafts and proposes relevant laws required for the security of computer systems and networks in Nigeria.
The office has also established National Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Mechanism with Early Warning System (EWS) and Alerts for all cyber related emergencies in the country (ngCERT); National Computer Forensic Laboratory and coordinating the training and utilization of the facility by all law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and coordinated Nigeria's involvement in international cybersecurity cooperations to ensure the integration of our country into the global frameworks on cybersecurity.
As things are, if the moves are persistent and stakeholders rely more on engagement than using of only arms and ammunition, the battered image of Nigerians can easily be rebuilt to command local and international respect.