By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
The Federal Government has advocated the use of artificial intelligence in the protection of critical infrastructure across the country.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami gave the charge Tuesday in Abuja at the opening of a stakeholders summit on the protection of critical infrastructure organized by the Nigeria Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC.
While he stressed the need for more awareness, research and development towards the protection of infrastructure, the minister commended the NSCDC management for their efforts in the protection of lives and property across the country.
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He said: “This is another dimension that I feel this summit should look into. How we can come together to have a multi-sectoral approach in which we all have a role to play to ensure that we protect our critical infrastructure by deploying new technological gadgets that will make our work easier, that we will be able to use remote surveillance to ensure that our infrastructure are safe.”
In his opening remarks, NSCDC Commandant General, Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi, urged Nigerians to join hands with the Corps in its efforts to ensure protection of critical infrastructure nationwide.
Audi said the summit was organized “to consider the sudden upsurge in crime and threats to National Security occasioned by the criminal activities of terrorists/insurgents, vandals and oil thieves, bandits, kidnappers, ethnic militias, border clashes/boundary disputes, communal clashes, farmers/herders clashes, ethnic agitators, and sometimes violent protests such as the #EndSARS protest which constitute potential threat to the critical national assets and infrastructure”.
Audi quoted the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as recently stating that the country loses an average of 200,000 barrels per day to the wanton damage to pipelines and other oil and gas facilities.
“Between January 2019 and September 2020, 1,161 pipeline points across the country were vandalized”, he quoted the minister as saying.
“The Group Managing Director of NNPC, MeleKyari explained that the Corporation lost about N51.207 billion between 2019 to May 2021. He added that from January-May 2021, NNPC pipeline segments suffered 203 pipeline breaks with a total cumulative loss of 39 million litres amounting to N5.973bn.
“While the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) disclosed that Nigeria has experienced significant economic loss due to pipeline vandalism. Nigeria lost about $42 billion to crude theft as well as domestic and refined petroleum products losses between 2009 and 2018″, he added.
Dr Audi said it behoves on all stakeholders to identify key Critical Infrastructure/Assets and their level of vulnerability.
“We should also address the potential threats to such Critical Asset and likely consequences, should that potential threat materializes.
“We also need to develop systems and strategies (protective measures) to avert such potential threats, taking into account existing proactive measures and identifying security gaps which will need to be addressed through specific protective measures.
“It is no longer news that the frequency of crime commission and level of insecurity has exposed our infrastructure/assets to dangers of attacks by criminal elements and saboteurs who are bent on frustrating Government’s efforts to foster good governance on the nation.
“Power and Telecommunication Installations have been under constant threat and attacks in the Northeast by terrorists groups, while farmlands have been devastated by constant farmers/herders clashes, flood waters and oil spillage in different parts of the Country.
“Also, activities of vandals and illegal bunkerers have wreaked havoc on Power and Telecommunication Installations/Facilities, Oil Pipelines, Railway Tracks, Bridge Railings, Critical Aviation Infrastructure, Gas Installations among others. Most recently, INEC Offices, Security Formations, Correctional Centres, etc, have either been attacked or under serious threat of attacks by hoodlums and criminal elements.”
The NSCDC boss said he has initiated regular interactions with sister agencies and other critical stakeholders to further strengthen existing inter-agency relations and ensure effective synergy so as to forge a common front to address and checkmate this menace and frequency of attacks on our common wealth.
“Permit me to also state that the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has continued to make tremendous efforts to fulfill its obligation as the lead agency in the protection of critical national assets and Infrastructure through effective synergy with sister agencies and other critical stakeholders within available resources at its disposal.
“I have equally supervised the establishment of an all Female Squad purposely to secure our school environment in view of recent attacks on schools and kidnap of students by bandits.
“Without sounding immodest, the Corps has been awake to its responsibilities and have delivered in the area of its mandate, intelligence gathering and information sharing.
“Our efforts have been yielding fruitful results which has led to series of arrests, prosecutions and convictions. For instance, from January 2021 to date, the Corps has made 504 arrests with 463 under prosecution while 41 convictions have been secured.
“We can however perform better with additional funding and modern equipment support from the Government and other Critical Stakeholders.
“Let us all stand and raise our voice in unison to fight this noble cause. We need to deal with these outlaws who may be executing a sinister agenda to make the Country ungovernable”, he added.