The recent report that international hackers from North Korea are siphoning hundreds of millions from banks in other countries to fund their nuclear programmes, including Nigeria has revealed the level of vulnerability of Nigerian Cyberspace. That is aside the displeasure expressed by the founder of World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee that his invention has been greatly compromised. The very fact that most of our ICT facilities, codes, programmes and servers are neither own by the government nor sited in Nigeria leaves us more at risk than other targeted countries.
Another generational leadership flaws that has exposed us to this avoidable danger is our penchant for outsourcing strategic and highly sensitive information management or generation to expatriate companies, mainly from India, China, USA, Britain, Israel and other countries leave us as prone as a bird lured with a corn would be caught in the trap set for it. ICT programmes of most of the government strategic institutions were conceptualized and managed by expatriates and expatriate companies. Those in leadership positions prefer the services of expatriate companies who in turn aid them fleece the nation’s treasure. These foreigners and foreign companies connive with nefarious Nigerians in leadership positions to rip off Nigerians after which they give us the most inferior services that cannot in anyway stand the test of time. We engage them as consultants and constantly pay them their retainers’ fee whether they render their services or not. They in turn give us kick-backs which they help us secured in foreign banks.
That is not to say there are no Nigerians employed in the ICT departments of those government institutions. In most cases, the expatriates would NEVER accept to transfer knowledge or their expertise to Nigerians even after receiving these hundreds of millions as consultancy and training services.
This issue reminds me of what a retired banker friend told me. He said in every branch of a bank, there is a department that no bank manager kids with and that is ICT department. He said that every bank manager prays to have a loyal ICT manager as the profitability and overall functions of the bank rest on him. “If he chooses to remove just one cable, the entire activities of the branch can be brought down until the ICT manager gets what he wants. In some cases, when the ICT manager needs personal money, he could just unplug a cable that might affect operations of the bank. He is immediately given any money he claimed he needed to buy materials”.
From our data generation to information management, nothing is truly under our control. Virtually all the communication and GSM companies are expatriate companies that have their facilities and programmes either in Nigeria or elsewhere. How then can we be sure that our information are safe and kept off from the target of those who may want to use it for nefarious activities?
If a country as developed and advanced in technology as USA could be hacked, then our vulnerability could be a double tragedy.
Our problems as a nation do not border on the unavailability of resources, both human and capital resources, it borders mainly on our mentality where we hardly believe in our own; where we hardly make attempt to harness what we have for national growth and development. We simply like foreign things so much that we steal funds from our treasure and take it out of the shores of the country to spend it. We fleeced our treasury to equip others who in turn use our stolen funds to fund researches, inventions and innovations which they in turn bring to us at a cost; cost of our money and cost of our safety.
With this latest hacking threat, banks could close shop or spend outrageously on foreign companies for special codes and passwords. For government institutions, it is a time to demand for extra budgetary allocation that would end up in the hands of the foreign companies whose integrity cannot be vouched for.
Everything that hitherto was indigenous has been phased out or sold off in the name of privatization. We killed our own NITEL to have GSM simply to quench the insatiable appetite of the foreign economic hawks and their local collaborators. We have grounded our own airline to patronize that of those that only see Nigeria as a fertile land to reap and not to sow. Our power generation has been reduced to nothing after plunging hundreds of billions only to privatize it and hand over to those whose interest in Nigeria is limited to what they can take away from Nigeria and not what they can help it achieve. As it stands now, Nigeria can hardly boast of any national assets of their own.
We are as helpless as a country which its folly has brought on her knees. We live at the mercy of those whose love for us could be likened to Judas love for Jesus. They decide how we fare as a nation and would not hesitate to ‘unplug’ us any moment they feel they are not getting what they desire to get.