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Stakeholders Urge INEC to Partner NCC, Galaxy Backbone, Others to Improve Broadband Connectivity in Remote Areas

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Stakeholders in information and communications technology have urged Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) to work closely with the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Galaxy Backbone, NigComsat, and other private internet broadband providers to improve broadband connectivity and protect robust seamless network infrastructure across the country, as well extend reliable connectivity to remote areas.

This is part of the recommendations at the end of National Workshop on Election Infrastructure organised by the Centre for Cyberspace Studies, Nasarawa State University, held at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

The workshop which has the theme: Enriching the Values of Free, Fair, Inclusive, Credible and Transparent Elections was declared open by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Aliu Ibrahim Pantami.

In his speech, the Minister, who was the special guest of honour, commended the organisers for providing a strategic platform that will enhance stakeholder engagement to ensure that the digital provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 deliver the expected credible, free, fair, inclusive and transparent election in 2023.

The central objective of the Workshop was to avail stakeholders in the Nigerian electoral process an opportunity to brainstorm on the concerns, challenges, and desirable interventions needed to enhance effective preparations and delivery of successful 2023 National elections.

This is against the need to balance the benefits of digital transformation and the usual negative effects of cybercrime and cyberwarfare directed against election infrastructure. Among the dignitaries at the event were Professor Suleiman Bala Mohammed, Vice-Chancellor, Nasarawa State University; His Royal Highness, Dr David Wodi Tukura, the Aguma of Bassa Turunku Chiefdom in Nasarawa State.

Prof. Mohammed Ajiya, President DBI, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON); Prof. Yakubu Aliyu, a US-based Cybersecurity expert; Engr. Mohammed Rudman, Chief Executive Officer, of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) and President NiRA; Dr Daniel Omofoman, Executive Director of African Electoral Integrity Initiative; DCP Uche Ifeanyi Henry, Director NPF-NCCC, Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre, Force Headquarters. Others were representatives of the Chief Executive Officers of the Nigeria Communications Commission, Department of State Security Service, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Space Administration (DSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The workshop which was conducted in a hybrid mode (in-person and virtual) had a total of 162 national and international participants and featured over thirty-five top-level resource persons from academia and industry across the globe.

The keynote address was delivered by a cybersecurity expert and pioneer Commandant of the EFCC Academy, His Royal Highness, Dr David Wodi Tukura, who is also the Aguma of Bassa Turunku Chiefdom in Nasarawa State.

Professor Tonnie Iredia, former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) delivered the lead paper which appraised the 2022 Electoral Act.

Other resource persons include Engr. Lucky Okehigbemen (Germany); Dr Uche M. Mbanaso, Executive Director, Centre for Cyberspace Studies, NSUK; Dr Kenneth Okereafor, and Dr Steven Bassey. Professors: Francisca Ogwurleka (University of Abuja), Emmanuel Dandaura (Executive Director, Institute of Strategic and Development Communication); Mohammed Ajiya; Yusuf Yakubu (USA).

In his welcome address, the Convener and Vice-Chancellor of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, for the boldness to reform the Nigerian electoral process to include the use of digital resources like BVAS and IReV for the first time.

He noted that “Mr. President’s intention to entrench a legacy of credible, fair, free, inclusive and transparent election in 2023 is the highest demonstration of patriotism and statesmanship”. He stated that the Workshop was primarily conceived by the “Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), to support this noble vision of Mr. President”.

The VC also commended the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and his team, for their enthusiasm and resilience to wholesomely implement the Electoral Act 2022 without compromise.

Observations

At the end of the three-day event, the participants observed as follows:

  1. Currently, the nation is faced with the challenges of stable and reliable broadband internet connectivity across the country to support effective digital electoral processes;
  2. The interoperability challenges in synchronizing the IPv4 and the IPv6 networks remain unresolved;

iii. The cybersecurity posture of the nation has avoidable gaps, especially in the area of capacity building to create a pipeline of cybersecurity workforce that is very knowledgeable and skilled to enhance the protection of national cyberspace. Foreign interferences were raised especially, the potential for foreign supply chains to leverage on ‘vendor trust’ to infiltrate digital election infrastructure unnoticeably.

  1. Stakeholders are persuaded that owing to the expansive functions under its enabling Act, as amended, INEC is overstretched, hence unable to fully discharge its functions like effective voter education and control of election offences;
  2. The use of proprietary ICT products from vendors located in foreign countries as part of Nigerian election infrastructure increases the surface vulnerabilities that foreign adversaries may exploit to compromise the integrity of Nigerian elections;
  3. Stakeholders decry the non-utilization of the data being collected by statutory bodies like the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the National Population Commission (NPC) to evolve a seamless voter register. By her mandate, the NPC maintains a record of births and deaths so should know which citizen has come of voting age or is deceased.

Recommendations

Given the foregoing, the participants recommend the following:

  1. To ensure hitch-free elections, INEC should work closely with the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Galaxy Backbone, NigComsat, and other private internet broadband providers to improve broadband connectivity and protect robust seamless network infrastructure across the country, to extend reliable connectivity to remote areas;
  2. The NCC and NITDA should facilitate full implementation of IPv6 and ensure timely synchronization with IPv4 to enhance interoperability of digital infrastructure elements;

iii. The Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) currently in charge of Cybersecurity should designate some tertiary institutions as Centres of Excellence (CoE) in Cybersecurity to advance capacity building, research and development (R&D) as coordinated and measurable measures to improve national cybersecurity posture. This buttresses the urgent need for a pipeline of cybersecurity workforce that is very knowledgeable and skilled to enhance the protection of national cyberspace.

  1. Stakeholders recommend the streamlining of INEC functions into the following complimentary Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to allow INEC to focus on the conduct of elections: (a) Electoral Offences Commission to handle issues of electoral misconduct and crimes; (b) Digital Election Technology Infrastructure Commission to continuously research, design, develop and deploy homegrown digital election components to be used by INEC; (c) Voters Education and Awareness function currently under INEC should be transferred to the National Orientation Agency (NOA) which has more established structures for mass mobilization and education in all local governments areas in Nigeria. Separating these related duties in the management of Nigeria’s elections will improve efficiency and bequeath the nation a more reliable, effective, transparent and efficient electoral process.
  2. NITDA should be empowered to improve its local content development mandate to reduce the dependence on imported ICT products and solutions by INEC and mitigate possible foreign interferences in the nation’s digital space. NITDA can achieve this by using tertiary institutions for the domestication of Open Stack Architecture products and solutions to enhance the cybersecurity of products and solutions deployed to critical national infrastructure.
  3. On potential foreign interferences, there is the need for effective collaboration and synergy between the INEC Cybersecurity team, and security and law enforcement agencies in the area of cybersecurity intelligence sharing, vetting of foreign vendors, and protection of digital election infrastructure as critical national information infrastructure (CNII).

vii. Government should strengthen the NPC and NIMC (possibly merge the two organisations for effective citizens’ dada) database management systems, to produce more reliable citizens’ data which should feed the INEC voter register in the 2027 elections. Citizens that have attained the minimum voting age of 18 years could be automatically enrolled as voters, in the same way, that the database should be cleaned up regularly to deactivate deceased citizens seamlessly. This equally, will save huge costs in governance in the face of scarcity of funds.

 


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9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

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Board of Directors of Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, has refuted reports suggesting that a court ordered the company to pay a N55bn debt to Keystone Bank.

9mobile Refutes Claims of N55Bn Debt to Keystone Bank

In a statement at the weekend, the telecommunications company clarified that it was not a party to any legal suit or court order related to the debt.

The legal dispute involves only its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited.

“Our attention has been drawn to a wave of syndicated media publications dated Friday, July 19, 2024, with the same misleading headline: ‘Court orders 9mobile to pay N55bn debt to Keystone Bank,’” 9mobile stated.

“The Management of 9mobile wishes to inform the concerned public and critical stakeholders that, contrary to this misleading headline, Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Limited, trading as 9mobile, was neither a party to any suit nor affected by the order said to have been made against it as an entity.”

On Friday, a section of the media reported that a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered Teleology Nigeria Ltd. to pay the sum owed to Keystone Bank.

Bode Olanipekun, SAN, Keystone’s counsel, claimed Teleology failed to service the loan used to finance its acquisition of assets in 9mobile.

Despite Keystone Bank’s offer to restructure the loan, Teleology did not meet the conditions set forth. Instead of repayment, the plaintiff received a proposal from PAC Ltd. suggesting a debt conversion to equity with no immediate repayment.

9mobile emphasised that the reports were false and defamatory, impacting its corporate reputation.

“If the correspondents who filed the obviously syndicated news stories were anywhere near the courtroom during the proceedings leading to the issuance of the said order, they would have known that at no point was 9mobile a party to the suit in question. Rather, the action was appropriately classified and filed as ‘Keystone Bank v. Teleology Nigeria Limited.’”

The company reiterated that no judgment was made against it and described the attempt to link 9mobile with the transaction of its minority shareholder, Teleology Nigeria Limited, as “false and maliciously misleading.”

9mobile highlighted that it is under new ownership, with a 95.5 per cent controlling stake in the business, and has not been found liable for the actions of its minority shareholder in the ongoing legal tussle.

“Our business transformation program has commenced, and we are poised to reclaim our place in the market,” 9mobile assured.

Teleology Holdings acquired 9mobile, previously known as Etisalat Nigeria, in November 2018 after a lengthy bidding process. However, just two months later, Teleology announced its withdrawal from the project due to dissatisfaction with its local partnership and operational challenges.

This decision jeopardised the initial $50m deposit made for the acquisition and highlighted ongoing financial difficulties faced by 9mobile, which has seen a significant decline in subscribers since its financial troubles began in 2017.

 


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TD Africa, BOSCH Strengthen Ties on Nigerian Consumer Electronic Market

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To further showcase its acknowledgment and endorsement of the Nigerian-born, Africa-wide technology distribution company, TD Africa, a delegation of Robert Bosch GmbH, popularly known as BOSCH, has paid a courtesy visit to the tech distribution giant at its Victoria Island, Lagos, head office.

L-R: Ifeoma Chigbo-Ndukwe (HR & Admin, TD Africa); Anastasia Etumeahu (Bosch Business Manager, TD Africa); Piet Ebersohn (Bosch Brand Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa); Chioma Chimere (Coordinating Managing Director, TD Africa); Chiamaka Okonkwo (Business Analyst, TD Africa); Omotola Basiru (Procurement Officer, TD Africa).

This pivotal visit marks a renewed commitment of the German multinational engineering and technology company to TD Africa as the strategic ally for Bosch business in Nigeria.

Mrs. Chioma Chimere, the Coordinating Managing Director of TD Africa, who warmly received the Bosch delegation, said the visit was to further strengthen the existing ties between the two companies and stamp the multinational’s presence in Nigeria.

Her words, “This visit signifies a renewed focus on making Bosch the most sought-after consumer electronics brand for the discerning Nigerian customer.

“We believe the collaborative strategies discussed will pave the way for big prospects and breakthroughs for Bosch in Nigeria, and TD Africa stands ready as a key partner in this journey.”

Topmost on the discussion were strategies for projecting TD Africa as the key distributor for Bosch products in the country. As both parties outlined plans towards achieving exponential growth through marketing initiatives, among others, to expand Bosch’s market share.

Mr. Piet Ebersohn, the Brand Manager for Bosch, Sub-Saharan Africa, who led the delegation, said: “TD’s commitment to the growth of the customer’s value chain is immeasurable and invaluable. This is one of the many reasons we value our partnership with TD Africa.”

For the continued efficacy of the alliance, the German company promised to ensure top-notch supply-chain management practices with TD Africa to ensure a steady flow of desired Bosch products to ease and meet the Nigerian consumer demands without delay.

While this collaboration further reinforces TD Africa’s commitment to making technologies accessible across the continent, the visit has again confirmed TD Africa’s position as the premier distributor of choice for leading global brands.


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FG Calls on Nigerians to Apply for ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon

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Federal Government of Nigeria is calling on all Nigerian youths and IT enthusiasts to join the Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by registering to participate in the Economic Community of West Africa’s (ECOWAS) Cybersecurity Hackathon.

The event aims to empower citizens across the region with vital cybersecurity skills.

The event is being organised by ECOWAS and hosted by Nigeria in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, and NITDA.

The Cybersecurity Hackathon presents an excellent opportunity for both beginners and seasoned professionals to dive into the world of cybersecurity, acquire new skills, and network with fellow enthusiasts.

All talented individuals and teams are invited to join this exhilarating competition. Demonstrate your expertise, collaborate with peers, and push the boundaries of cybersecurity. Be part of the talent pool driving cyberspace security for your country and West Africa as a whole.

The hackathon fosters a platform for young technology enthusiasts, enhancing the cyber workforce in the region. Nigerian youths are particularly encouraged to participate and showcase their brightest minds in this competition. Whether a cybersecurity novice or a seasoned expert, this event offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills and connect with fellow cyber enthusiasts.

ECOWAS Hackathon is an annual ethical hacking competition that brings together top cybersecurity talents from across ECOWAS, providing a unique opportunity to showcase skills, encourage knowledge sharing, and promote excellence in the field of cybersecurity.

The first edition took place in Porto Novo, Benin Republic in 2022 and Lome, Togo in 2023.

Eligibility and Registration Details:

Registration Period: Open from July 19, 2024, to August 5, 2024.

Eligibility Criteria:

All participants must be citizens of ECOWAS

member countries.

Travel tickets will be provided for participants residing within the region.

Teams must consist of 3-4 members, with at least one female participant.

Participants must be between 17 and 35 years of age.

This initiative came at the time of a recent report by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2), which highlighted a global gap of four million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is addressing this talent shortage through its 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme, organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy.

The programme aims to train three million Nigerians in technical skills, including cybersecurity.

Register Now:

Don’t miss this thrilling opportunity to be part of West Africa’s cybersecurity community. Registration for the ECOWAS Cybersecurity Hackathon is now open. Join this exciting Capture the Flag (CTF) competition by clicking the link below: https://ecowasctf.ng](https://ecowasctf.ng)


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