By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Ali Ibrahim Pantami yesterday inaugurated a Committee led by the Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande, to advise the Federal Government on appropriate measures to take in protection of the nation’s cyberspace and ICT infrastructure from potential attacks especially during the 2023 General Elections.
The Minister, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, announced that constitution of the Committee was on the directive of Mr. President that he puts in place, a committee that will work to coordinate computer security centres in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in collaboration with other relevant institutions towards intercepting potential cyber-attacks.
He said with the increased role of ICT in online activities, and its crucial role in the conduct of the 2023 General Elections, in line with the Electoral Act, as amended, the job of the Committee will assist the nation in conducting a free, fair and credible elections.
He directed the Committee, to which he also belongs alongside the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and the Director General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Kashifu Abdullahi, among other in the ministry, to work round-the-clock from Friday, February 24, 2023 till the morning of Monday, February 27, 2023.
He said the Committee will also ensure it receives complaints around any attacks to critical infrastructure and ensure such complaints are escalated to relevant institutions, public or private, for necessary remedial actions. The CEO of Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Mohammad Abubakar, and the Special Assistant to the Hon. Minister on Digital Economy, Prof Aminu Ahmad, are members of the Committee, including key directors in the agencies.
“Our main responsibilities in this Committee are more of advisory. Firstly, when it comes to intercepting potential attacks that may come to our cyberspace. The Committee will coordinate the NCC’s Computer Security Incident Response Team at NCC; the Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team at the National Information Technology development Agency (NITDA) and the Galaxy Backbone’ National Cybersecurity Centre.
“These three centres must work together, complement each other and ensure they intercept any potential attacks on our cyberspace particularly on our Critical Infrastructure during the election so that we could either take action or provide necessary advice to the government,” Pantami said.
He said the Committee will work closely with institutions such as the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), mobile network operators (MNOs), among others, to collectively safeguard the Nigeria’s cyberspace from potential attacks or cases of vandalism and fibre cuts during the election.
“The challenges of protecting our cyberspace is a collective national responsibility; it is a national assignment. As a sector, we would play our own responsibility objectively and professionally. We would work collectively rather than working individually as agencies since we are in the same sector,” he added.
Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Prof. Adeolu Akande, expressed gratitude to the Minister for finding him and others worthy to be saddled with the very important national assignment, and assured the Hon. Minister of the readiness of the Committee to work hard towards delivering on its mandates of ensuring, in advisory capacity to the Federal Government and other relevant institutions, the protection of the nation’s cyberspace and ICT infrastructure during the elections.
“The committee members will do everything in their capacity to deliver on their Terms of Reference,” he said.