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Cyber security critical to 2019 general elections —NITDA

NITDA, To expand Nigeria’s portfolio of technology opportunities, ensure the country’s effective participation at this year’s Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) and to also expose her startups, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has inaugurated the Gitex 2018 Local Organising Committee (LOC). The event holds from October 14 – 18, 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) Dubai, United Arab Emirates. GITEX is the premier technology event in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The event annually hosts over 184, 000 trade visitors and delegates from more than 140 countries and over 4,000 world class exhibitors from about 97 countries. GITEX Technology Week is a five-day event, to become one of the most globe’s biggest technology gathering for governments and top decision makers. “We remain firm and committed to promoting technology deployment and building our local IT industry to world standard through participation in global events that further exposes the players to trends in the industry,” said Director-General of NITDA, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, while recently inaugurating the GITEX LOC as well as the LOC for eNigeria. Pantami urged the GITEX LOC to explore rather than exploit opportunities at improving Nigeria’s participation at such global events. He said: “to explore requires that we keep thinking of how better a thing can be no matter the level of success already achieved. To exploit is to be contented with our achievement and not to desire to improve or to be dynamic to keep raising the bar. I urge you all to explore new ideas and new ways at which we can improve our continuous participation at GITEX, an international event and eNigeria, our own national event that is already having an international clout.” The GITEX LOC, which draws members from both public and private sectors, has since gone to work with sub-committees for Startups, Pavilion Management, Media and Sector Profiling, and the GITEX LOC Secretariat. Members were enlisted from the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Bank of Industry, NIGCOMSAT Limited and Nigerian Export Promotion Council. Others are from the Nigeria Computer Society and Pinnacle International Consulting LLC, the DWTC Sole Representative for GITEX in Nigeria and West Africa. The Startup sub-committee is being managed by the Office for ICT Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OIIE) under NITDA. NITDA is sponsoring some carefully selected Nigerian startups to exhibit and participate in the Global Startup Movement and Expo in GITEX. To enable more startups to participate the GITEX Startup Sponsorship application was extended to September 2, 2018 as against the former date of August 25, 2018. Some of Nigerian startups are expected to compete in the GITEX Future Stars (GFS) competition, which further exposes the winners to a large pool of global venture capitalists, mentors and investors. “We plan to engage the international community and leverage on continuous exposure of our country’s investment potential in the ICT sector. We need every member of the LOC to come up with strategic ideas on how the country can best leverage on this international exposure in line with how the director general has tasked us all,” said the GITEX LOC chairman, Dr Agu Collins Agu, who is also the director of Corporate Planning and Strategy at NITDA.The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has said cyber security is critical to the 2019 general elections.

Dr Isa Pantami, the Director-General of the agency, made this known in a statement issued by Mrs Hadiza Umar, the Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations of the agency in Abuja late last week.

Pantami said that the agency was working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other relevant stakeholders to ensure cyber security throughout the electoral process.

He said that there was the need to put proper security checks in place to avoid any unforeseen eventuality from hackers and terrorists.

“If proper information technology security measures are not put in place, terrorists may disrupt the general elections by hacking into INEC’s  voter register database.

“They can disrupt the banking system by hacking into it and taking over the Bank Verification Number (BVN) platform.

“They can critically disrupt the national economy by cyber-jacking the Treasury Single Account (TSA) software and other key system of the nation.

“We, therefore, call on all Nigerians to note that cyber security is critical to national security,” he said.

According to him, reports in the public domain purported that the agency said there is verifiable and imminent threat of terrorist attack on the 2019 general elections.

Pantami said that NITDA was not aware of any plan to disrupt the 2019 general elections but “is proactively working with INEC and other stakeholders to ensure security of election and voting ICT Infrastructure.

“NITDA, as the ICT Sector Regulator, has prioritised cyber security as one of its seven strategic focus areas.

“In this regard, public awareness through capacity building workshops for relevant stakeholders in the states, has so far been conducted in the North West, South South and North East zones, while the train moves on to other zones shortly.

“The agency has developed a strong partnership with relevant agencies including INEC, Central Bank, National Identity Management Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service for the purpose of effectively securing Nigerian cyberspace,” he said.

Pantami said that the country through the agency had formed profitable partnership with global technology giants to improve its cyber-security.

He said that the agency through its Cyber-security Emergency Readiness and Response Team, had been gathering necessary information and intelligence to counter the activities of devious cyber criminals.

He, however, challenged ICT professionals to come up with more options to help the nation become better prepared as a nation in the days of global cyber warfare.

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