Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday described cyberspace as one of the greatest threats to Nigeria’s existence and challenged the military to concentrate a serious attention on this ‘theatre of war.’
Osinbajo who made this submission while delivering a speech at graduation ceremony of the senior course 39 of the Armed Forces, Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna, described the cyberspace as battle ground against Nigeria’s unity, reasoning that the internet had become the harbour for hate, provocative and inciting speeches capable of destabilising the nation.
The acting president who further described the cyberspace as currently designed as a theatre of war in the 21st century, added that it had become the platform for articulation of terrorist activities as well as offensive expressions and tasked the military to see the cyberspace as a conventional battle field to which it must deploy forces.
Arguing that the cyberspace had equally become the training school for the production and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Osinbajo further described it as the avenue for promotion of secession and quit ultimatum by some South-easterners and Northerners in recent times.
“Another lesson is that in the 21st century the theatre of war is increasingly shifting to cyberspace. Terrorist organisations, purveyors of hate speech, all of these and many more who seek to destabilise the world are busy staking out territory on the internet, and scoring significant victories and conquests for themselves.
“As members of the Armed Forces, with a mandate to protect Nigeria from all forms of internal and external aggression, you will increasingly be judged as much on the basis of your success online as on your successes on the conventional battlefield.
“The internet has altered or disrupted every industry we know of: politics and elections, business and commerce, governance; and is changing the very nature of warfare. Websites teaching on how to make and use IEDs and other explosives are numerous.
Today a great deal of the threats facing Nigeria are being nurtured and cultivated in the vast spaces of the internet. The rumblings of secession, the dangerous quit ultimatums to ethnic groups, the radio stations and blogs that spew divisive speech and exploit our fault lines; all of these are now to be found online.
“This means that the military and its officers and men must itself devote resources and talent to these new battlefields, where mindless verdicts on the continued unity and existence of Nigeria are daily being delivered.
“As you make your way out of the hallowed halls of this institution, into the ‘field’, as you would describe it, you have huge roles to play in the way Nigeria turns out in the years and decades ahead,” he said.
Osinbajo also lamented that ethnicity and religion had become effective tools for bargaining in Nigeria, pointing out that “when you hear a person say that my tribe has been marginalised usually what he is saying is appoint me.”
Observing further that ethnicity and religion have become tools of defence, Osinbajo added that when people are charged for looting public funds, they claim that they are being victimised because of their religion and tribe.
Citing countries such as Italy, India and United States as countries which share the same diversities with Nigeria, he said the success stories of their fusion had only shown that Nigeria did not necessarily need to be a perfect union before it could be a great country.
Describing the Nigerian elite as Nigeria’s major problem, he was swift to add that the elite were confronted with the challenge and wonderful opportunity to build a new nation devoid of cynicism, division and suspicion.
“A new nation built on trust, consensus, love for one another and love for our country is possible. A nation where the rulers do not steal the commonwealth, where every Nigerian is safe to live and work, where the state takes responsibility for the security of each and every Nigerian, where the state knows every Nigerian by name and can find and locate each one of us, a Nigeria where the Ibo or Ijaw man can live peacefully in Sokoto, and the Fulani man can live peacefully in the Niger Delta,” he added