At the end of a two-day National Stakeholders Summit recently held in Abuja by Ashcraft Centre for Social Science Research, stakeholders who participated have suggested ways to stamp out the challenges of infrastructure vandalism and the destruction of business assets in Nigeria.
In a communiqué issued after the summit on Protecting the Integrity of Nigeria’s Critical Infrastructure, Monuments and Business Assets, the Centre identified a number of challenges affecting the country’s capacity to combat and overcome emergent security threats to critical national infrastructure.
The communiqué, signed by its Chief of Strategic Planning and Innovation, Chiakor Alfred, suggested that in the light of the plethora of security and safety challenges in the country, prioritisation of cyberspace in the hierarchy of critical infrastructure and enactment of relevant legislation to support the protection of critical infrastructure have become imperative.
To prevent further sabotage, the summit proffered the adoption of modern and traditional approaches in dealing with security threats and socialisation of the population on the importance of protecting public assets.
As the various experts who brainstormed at the Summit suggested that expertise and operational knowledge of state and private institutions are required to win the battle against infrastructure sabotage, they urged that policing of these critical national assets by both uniformed men and local residents is also paramount.
Apart from these, they further highlighted “creation of jobs for the population to deter anti-social and criminal behaviours; nationwide advocacy to create awareness on threats to critical infrastructure; emphasis on research and development in security matters; and moral re-armament of the national population.”
During the course of their discussion on critical national infrastructure safety, participants unearthed major security threats to include the perception that public assets are not anybody’s business, widespread corruption, absence of national crisis management doctrine, and lack of perspective planning on the part of state institutions.
Other bottlenecks identified are a knee-jerk approach to solving obvious national problems, non-institutionalisation of protection of the critical infrastructures, absence of early warning system in form of risk analysis, digital poverty, and the crippling effects of inter-agency rivalry in the security complex.
The summit noted that Nigeria’s infrastructure has been threatened and systematically undermined, given the records of attacks on the country’s collective assets.
“Oil and gas sector that accounts for about 95 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, has been hard hit by pipeline vandalisation, flaring and oil theft,” the Communiqué partly reads.
It further noted, for example, that of the 85 million cyber-attacks on the African continent in the last six months, Nigeria accounted for about 20 percent of the attacks, thereby underlining the weight of threats to the country’s infrastructures, both hard and soft.
It will be stated that despite that the government has formulated some policies such as the National Protection Policy and Strategy 2022 (CNAINPPS 2022); National Security Strategy Framework; and the Critical National Infrastructure Bill currently under consideration at the National Assembly, among others, threats to national assets loom large.
Meanwhile, the summit featured the participation of 422 stakeholders from various sectors such as telecoms, oil and gas, Information Communication Technology (ICT), aviation, maritime, energy, power, security, and other crosscutting sectors from various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well So military, paramilitary bodies, organised private sectors, civil society organizations, media, traditional rulers among others.