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Global Alternative Agenda

The Global Alternative Agenda is an international non-governmental organization established and funded as a project of Global Crusaders Service Limited in June 2001 to address the need of young people in Africa

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Oludare Ogunlana

Oludare Ogunlana, Convener reading welcome remarks

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Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa

Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa, Ghanaian National Security Adviser declaring the event open

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Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

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Guest Speakers

Guest Speakers

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Participants

Participants

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Award Presentation

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Award Presentation

Award Presentation

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Award Presentation

Award Presentation

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Award Presentation

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Participants

Participants

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Terrorism, Sahel, France, Mali | Homeland Security Newswire

Thirteen French soldiers were killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Mali. The accident has drawn attention to France’s on-going involvement in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region – a vast, arid, and largely unpopulated region south of the Sahara which covers an area the size of Europe and which has seen an alarming increase in Islamist terrorist activities.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Mali. The accident has drawn attention to France’s on-going involvement in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region.
France has deployed its military to Mali on 11 January 2013, after Tuareg separatists joined with al Qaeda-affiliated local Islamists – known as Ansar Dine – in the spring of 2012 to create the breakaway Republic of Azawad in northern Mali.
The French antiterrorist campaign, known as the “Serval” operation, included 1,700 commandos accompanied by planes and helicopters. France decided to intervene in Mali after the Islamists spread out of Azawad and began to move toward the country’s capital Bamako.
On 1 August 2014 the French forces a joint regional military campaign to root out Islamist terrorism from the vast Sahel region. The new initiative, called G5 Sahel (G5 du Sahel), was a framework created by France and five countries in region — Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad – to launch a Sahel-wide campaign, called the “Barkhane” operation, aiming to fight Islamists throughout the arid largely unpopulated region. France has increased the number of its troops in the region from 1,700 to 4,500.
The size of the western Sahel region, which the Barkhane operation was supposed to keep free of Islamists, is equal to the size of Europe.
Since 2013, forty-one soldiers have been killed in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel.
Le Figaro reports that the G5 Sahel framework which France and the five African countries agreed to in August 2014 was enhanced in November 2015, when the leaders of the six countries agreed to create a joint military force to fight the Jihadist groups in the region.
The joint military force saw some early success, but it has been dogged from the start by problems relating to financing, organization, staffing, and leadership. Moreover, the militaries of several countries, especially Burkina Faso, have been accused of heavy handedness and excessive violence in dealing with the civilian population.
Le Monde notes that the Barkhane operation is not the only security measure taken by Sahel countries in their effort to fight the Islamists.
On 25 April 2013, the UN Security Council authorized the establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a force of 13,000 peacekeepers deployed to the region beginning 1 July 2013. MINUSMA is funded and monitored by the International Support Mission in Mali (MISMA), which was created by the Economic Community of States of West Africa (ECOWAS).
In February 2013, the EU created the European Training Mission of the Malian Army (EUTM Mali). EUTM Mali deploys about 600 soldiers from the 28 EU countries to Mali, where they train the Malian military and provide intelligence and logistical support, but do not take part in the fighting against the jihadists.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Social media, fake news, disinformation, surveilance | Homeland Security Newswire

Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, tilting the technology toward digital authoritarianism. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, according to Freedom on the Net 2019, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, released today by Freedom House.
Freedom House says that adding to the problem of meddling by foreign regimes, a new menace to democracy has risen from within, as populist leaders and their armies of online supporters seek to distort politics at home. Domestic election interference marred the online landscape in 26 of the 30 countries studied that held national votes over the past year. Disinformation was the most commonly used tactic. Authorities in some countries blocked websites or cut off access to the internet in a desperate bid to cling to power.
“Many governments are finding that on social media, propaganda works better than censorship,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Authoritarians and populists around the globe are exploiting both human nature and computer algorithms to conquer the ballot box, running roughshod over rules designed to ensure free and fair elections.”
Governments from across the democratic spectrum are indiscriminately monitoring citizens’ online behavior to identify perceived threats—and in some cases to silence opposition. Freedom House has found evidence of advanced social media surveillance programs in at least 40 of the 65 countries analyzed.
“Once reserved for the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies, big-data spying tools are making their way around the world,” said Adrian Shahbaz, Freedom House’s research director for technology and democracy. “Advances in AI are driving a booming, unregulated market for social media surveillance. Even in countries with considerable safeguards for fundamental freedoms, there are already reports of abuse.”
The proliferation of sophisticated monitoring tools has reduced people’s ability to freely express themselves and be civically active online. Of the 65 countries assessed in this report, a record 47 featured arrests of users for political, social, or religious speech.
“The future of internet freedom rests on our ability to fix social media,” said Shahbaz. “Since these are mainly American platforms, the United States must be a leader in promoting transparency and accountability in the digital age. This is the only way to stop the internet from becoming a Trojan horse for tyranny and oppression.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Does Killing Terrorist Leaders Make any Change?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The United States' special force killed ISIS leader (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), and the group appointed another leader within 24 hours. What does that tell us?

The modern terrorist organization runs a "mission-driven" organization, which is far stronger than the "leadership-driven" movement. The terrorists can connect and freely exchange ideas unhindered irrespective of miles and international boundaries. The new "modus operandi" made it difficult to disrupt terrorist activities just by killing their leaders. Today's terrorist organization has no clear hierarchy.

Killing the head of Al-Shabab in Somalia in 2014 by US drones has not changed anything. Of course, targeting and killing the leaders of the terrorist groups is one of the options but not an effective deterrence. Al-Qaida, ISIS, and other groups have been able to run chains of the website of which they post-ideological beliefs and messages under the toga of religion, which has directly influenced or motivated small collection of individuals scattered all over the world including the United States. Therefore, it worthy to note that the activities of the 21st-century terrorist organization are not built around leaders but mission and purpose.

The most important thing the "superpowers" and government leaders should do is to ensure they prevent radicalization by helping to deal with grievances that are spawning terrorists. For instance,  Africa does not produce weapons that Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab use. The western power should hold to their promise to keep the most dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands.

Friday, 18 October 2019

China, Spying, internet, Great Firewall | Homeland Security Newswire

Those outside the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are accustomed to thinking of the Internet censorship practices of the Chinese state as primarily domestic, enacted through the so-called “Great Firewall”—a system of surveillance and blocking technology that prevents Chinese citizens from viewing websites outside the country. The Chinese government’s justification for that firewall is based on the concept of “Internet sovereignty.” The PRC has long declared that “within Chinese territory, the internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty.”
Hong Kong, as part of the “one country, two systems” agreement, has largely lived outside that firewall: foreign services like Twitter, Google, and Facebook are available there, and local ISPs have made clear that they will oppose direct state censorship of its open Internet.
But the ongoing Hong Kong protests, and mainland China’s pervasive attempts to disrupt and discredit the movement globally, have highlighted that China is not above trying to extend its reach beyond the Great Firewall, and beyond its own borders. In attempting to silence protests that lie outside the Firewall, in full view of the rest of the world, China is showing its hand, and revealing the tools it can use to silence dissent or criticism worldwide.
Some of those tools—such as pressure on private entities, including American corporations NBA and Blizzard—have caught U.S. headlines and outraged customers and employees of those companies. Others have been more technical, and less obvious to the Western observers.
The “Great Cannon” Takes Aim at Sites Outside the FirewallThe Great Cannon is a large-scale technology deployed by ISPs based in China to inject javascript code into customers’ insecure (HTTP) requests. This code weaponizes the millions of mainland Chinese Internet connections that pass through these ISPs. When users visit insecure websites, their browsers will also download and run the government’s malicious javascript—which will cause them to send additional traffic to sites outside the Great Firewall, potentially slowing these websites down for other users, or overloading them entirely.
The Great Cannon’s debut in 2015 took down Github, where Chinese users were hosting anti-censorship software and mirrors of otherwise-banned news outlets like the New York Times. Following widespread international backlash, this attack was halted.
Last month, the Great Cannon was activated once again, aiming this time at Hong Kong protestors. It briefly took down LIHKG, a Hong Kong social media platform central to organizing this summer’s protests.
Targeting the Global Chinese Community Through MalwarePervasive online surveillance is a fact of life within the Chinese mainland. But if the communities the Chinese government wants to surveill aren’t at home, it is increasingly willing to invest in expensive zero-days to watch them abroad, or otherwise hold their families at home hostage.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire

Foreigners who decry American imperialism while seeking to relax on Miami’s sandy beaches or play poker at Las Vegas’s casinos may seek to soften their tone on Twitter.
Or foreigners posting on Facebook about someday living in New York City may now decide to take their love for the Big Apple down a notch, lest they be suspected of wanting to stay in the United States permanently.

The reason?
The U.S. State Department is now demanding visa applicants provide their social-media profiles on nearly two dozen platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
The rules, which took effect on May 31, don’t require applicants to turn over passwords to social-media accounts.
Still, immigration lawyers said the demands may stifle open discussion on social media, making prospective immigrants or visitors more cautious about what they post and whom they befriend online.
“People will be afraid to express their opinion on politics of the U.S,” said Andrei Romanenko, a Russian-speaking immigration lawyer based in San Francisco. “Some will fear to add friends living in the U.S. because they may think that an extensive network of friends in the U.S. may become an indicator of immigrant intent.”
Announced last year, the updated rules are part of a wider program by President Donald Trump to tighten the U.S. borders, a campaign promise that helped him get elected in 2016.
Now, most people who are required to obtain a visa — even if it’s just to visit relatives for a few days — are required to share their social-media information on their application form.
The rules don’t apply to people from countries that currently are exempt from short-term visa rules — for example, foreign tourists or business travelers who are allowed to visit the United States for 90 days, visa-free, under the Visa Waiver Program. But individuals seeking employment visas will be required to turn over, say, their LinkedIn profile information.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the State Department said in a statement to RFE/RL. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
20 platformsThe rules now require applicants to share their social-media handles or identifiers used in the past five years for the following platforms: Ask FM, Douban, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, QZone, Reddit, Sina Weibo, Tencent


Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire

Deportations. immigration, illegal immigration | Homeland Security Newswire

On Monday, President Trump tweeted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States” next week. Can this really happen? How soon? And what would that look like?

This isn’t the first time Trump has threatened to deport undocumented immigrants on a massive scale. Shortly after his inauguration, Trump pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with “criminal records” during an interview with CBS News. That didn’t happen then. And the reality on the ground is far more complicated now. 
What is ICE’s record of arrests and deportation?There are an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
In fiscal year 2018, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations(ERO) made 158,581 arrests  while recording 256,085 ICE removals — an increase from both 2016 and 2017, but a sharp decrease from its peak of 409,849 removals in fiscal year 2012.
Why Trump’s threat is questionableBut even if the president attempted to stay true to his word, there are not nearly enough ICE agents available to conduct an operation of this scale. As the Washington Post reported, such a plan would require weeks of planning, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of agents and law enforcement personnel, who have already been spread thin due to budget limitations and concentrated efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border. Adding to the miscommunication, ICE — which normally does not publicize its operations in advance — appeared to be caught off-guard by the announcement.  
Deportations. immigration, illegal immigration | Homeland Security Newswire

Monday, 17 June 2019

Boko Haram Cyber Jihadists and New Face of Terror

Dr. Oludare Ogunlana, speaking at St. John's University, New York, June 12, 2019
On Monday, June 10, 2019, the Nigerian Army confirmed the killing of nine “social media personalities” of the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP). The news came as I was preparing to provide an insight into a new topic entitled: “Stopping Boko Haram/ISWAP Cyber jihadists with Cybersecurity Technologies” at the annual conference of International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) held at prestigious St. John’s University,  New York.
Since a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014, the group has adopted the ISIS doctrine of information warfare. As noted by Chalie Winter in ICSR report, the ISIS group considered new media to be a powerful weapon, which, if leveraged correctly, has “far-reaching” power, which surpasses the most powerful bombs in the world. The purpose is to incites activism by venerating information warfare in a manner unmatched by any other Salafi-jihadist actor. As documented in the ISIS manual, propaganda production and dissemination is at a point considered to be more important than military jihad.
In April 2016, ISIS released a document via Secure Telegram channel entitled “Media Operative, You Are a Mujahid, Too.” The group appealed to its followers to participate based on ideology, theology, and emotion. Take a look at the extracts below from the manual:
“A gun can kill a heartbeat, but a camera can give life to thousands of hearts.”
“To every media operative brother in the Islamic State, you should know and be convinced of the following fact, [that] the media is a jihad in the way of Allah [and that] you, with your media work, are therefore a mujahid in the way of Allah.”
“Inciting others to join the jihad is tantamount to engaging in the jihad oneself, as is steering others towards it and opening their eyes to it. The one who incites is a mujahid in the way of Allah the Almighty.”
The 21st-century terrorists would be sophisticated with the capability to use media technologies to cause extreme damage.
Terrorist organizations, including Boko Haram/ISWAP, would always take advantage of the media to propagate their violent ideologies.
Meanwhile, Information and communication technologies have created a new avenue of terrorism; they also provide modes for defense. The technological approach complemented with other strategies is the future of the fight against the expansion of extremist ideology, mobilization, coordination, and terrorist influence in cyberspace.
We commend the effort of Nigerian Security/Military personnel at the frontline, defending and fighting tirelessly despite all the challenges. The tricky thing is that the security must win all the time while terrorists need a day of luck to cause havoc. Meanwhile, the government of Nigeria must understand who they are fighting to enable military/security planners rightly diagnose the problem. The Boko Haram/ISWAP is where it is today because of strategic, innovative thinking, not just technological advances. Hence, the government and its military must be equally as creative and strategic-minded in its approach towards counter-communications and use of cybersecurity technologies to stop the enemies in cyberspace. Several technological mitigation tools could be implemented, including content monitoring and the use of cyber surveillance technology. The use of Intelligence and cyber mitigation strategies with the application of technologies could be used to achieve the goals of prevention, deterrence, detection, and response.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Local to Global: Intelligence Cooperation and Education

Dr. Oludare Ogunlana of Council for African Security Affairs (CASA) will join several other speakers at the Fifteenth IAFIE annual Conference scheduled for, June 9, to 12, 2019 at St. John's University, Queens New York. The title of the presentation is “Stopping Boko Haram/ISWAP in Cyberspace with Cybersecurity technologies.”
Intelligence educators from around the world will come together once again to share best practices and theory. As stated on the organization website (www.iafie.org), the 15th Annual IAFIE conference will focus on the theme: “Local to Global: Intelligence Cooperation and Education." 

IAFIE is a professional organization consisting of representatives from various intelligence disciplines and academia to serve as the association for advancing research, knowledge, and professional development in intelligence education. This group, from different intelligence disciplines which comprises of national security, law enforcement, and competitive intelligence, identified the need for a professional association that could span diverse disciplines, provide resources, and acts as a catalyst for the development of Intelligence Studies programs.

The cost of attending the 15th Annual IAFIE conference 2019 is $350 for members, while $600 is for non-members and $100 for students.  Please, check the association website at www.iafie.org for conference agenda and other information.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tackling the Scourge of Kidnapping in Nigeria

Evans- Notorious Kidnapping suspect under investigation
Kidnapping for personal or financial gain is on the rise in Nigeria and has become an everyday occurrence. It is so worrisome to the extent that even police officers were abducted, and the agency was forced to purchase freedom for their men. These are not political violence but a criminal act that require competent security agencies to respond and defeat the crooks. Criminals have never been this audacious in the history of Nigeria. There is no gainsaying in the fact that without an effective security organization with the capability to tackle and crush the kidnapping epidemic, economic development becomes extremely difficult.

At the moment, kidnapping is widespread in the Northern part of Nigeria; while Boko Haram terrorist group abduct young girls for ransom in the North East, the bandits that operate in the North West axis keep, targeting the rich, famous, including poor people in the society for monetary gain. From Zamfara to Sokoto, Kebbi, and Kaduna, the story is all the same. Recalled the Chairman of the Board Universal Basic Education Commissions (UBEC), Muhammed Mahmood and his daughter were kidnapped along the Kaduna-Abuja Road and the authority paid an undisclosed amount of money before their abductors released them. In the same route, some student activists were abducted and paid as low as fifteen thousand naira ($41 equivalent) each to regain freedom. It is funny, but the bandits collect money from people based on their worth. It is a business. While there are no official estimates of the numbers of kidnappings, and many are never reported but the reality in Nigeria of today is that everyone lives in fear of kidnapping for ransom irrespective of status.

Recently, a Professor at Obafemi Awolowo was kidnapped in the South West of Nigeria, and the University paid five million naira ($14000 equivalent) to secure his freedom. The victim described his abductors as herdsmen, the same people who have been kidnapping, killing and raping people across the nation. This is just to mention a few out of numerous high-profile kidnapping for profit in Nigeria.

Kidnapping as National epidemic

KIDNAPPING is the illegal seizure and holding of a person for ransom. It happens everywhere in Nigeria. Leadership failure, ineffective law enforcement, Poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity for youth and decline in societal values are mainly responsible. Kidnapping is an act caused by criminal action; it is traumatic and could result in loss of life if not carefully and rationally responded to. Also, it has a severe destabilizing effect on the affected family and Nigeria at large that could have serious international repercussions.

Kidnapping in Nigeria comes in two categories; political kidnappers and criminal kidnappers. Of course, the varieties do overlap; sometimes all two general types are incorporated in on the case. The political kidnappers or terrorists have publicity in mind to achieve a political goal. The actors kidnap to force governments or those with money and power to implement some change or act. Remember Leah Sharibu and schoolgirls abducted in 2014. Primarily, Nigeria is dealing with criminal kidnappers, and the agenda of the criminal kidnapper is to make quick money.  The most alarming and disturbing form of kidnapping in Nigeria is those who kidnap for ritual purposes.  Uncountable numbers of children, women, and men have been abducted without traces, and the deed is ongoing.  Unlike political kidnappers who kidnap for political agenda, dialogue and show of weakness on the part of the government may not yield a positive result.

What to do

The Nigerian government claims security agencies are working hard; fighting terrorism on the one hand and dealing with bandits and organize crimes all over the country. The presidency has initiated dialogues with herdsmen and Cattle breeders association to find common ground. Also, President Buhari has given a marching order to the head police and military to bring everything under control.
First, the Nigeria government must understand who they are fighting to identify the best approach to adopt. You cannot beg a thief not to steal your properties as long as there is an opportunity is there to do so. At this point, containment is necessary through the rapid application of force, and adequate law enforcement to deter the criminals. The government must use all the acceptable instrument of law to overcome this menace. Hence, engaging in such dialogue with criminals and their sponsors may not yield result.
Meanwhile, the government should move faster by empowering police with funding and equipment to fight the bandits. Intelligence is the life and blood of effective policing. The law enforcement agencies should work with the community to identify the criminals and bring them to book. Citizens should have the confidence to provide actionable information to Police without fear of becoming a victim. The reality of today is Nigerians are afraid of volunteering information to police for lack of confidence. Also, the government should as a matter of urgency device a way to mop up the small arms in the circulation. How and where the bandits are getting the weapons, the use remains issue to resolve.

Confront Insider Threats

Experience has shown that criminals have people within law enforcement, Military, and community working for them. The police and army must find a method to deal with malicious insiders within their organization who collude or work with the bandits. It was evident that most operations of the criminals were successful because of collaboration with those who supposed to protect citizens. There has been a rumor that some of them may be providing information and weapons assistance to bandits/kidnappers and share part of the money collected from victims. It is time for police leadership to look inward to identify the bad eggs and purge them out of the service.

Citizen Awareness

There is no easy solution. Currently, the political office holders travel by train from Abuja to Kaduna while top business executives from the region move around with a minimum of four armed guards. Even, the men of God (Pastors, Imam and Sheik) who are supposed to trust God for their security now rely on armed law enforcement officers for protection. The clergies and not taking things for granted.  Over time, the insecurity in Nigeria and the need for personal protection has shifted the additional burden on the overstretched Nigerian Police workforce. The police have a constitutional role in maintaining law and order and protecting ordinary citizens. At this point, the government must intensify efforts to educate her citizen, empower police to mitigate the crisis and improve on good governance to reduce poverty and those conditions that make young people turn to criminal activities.


Dr. Oludare Ogunlana is a Security Expert and writes from Washington DC.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Nigerian government website found to be infected with a DHL phishing page -Cyware

  • The website belonging to the Nigerian National Assembly contained a fraudulent web page that asked DHL credentials from the victims.
  • The page is connected to a phishing kit active since June 2017 which is used by many attackers.
A Nigerian government website was compromised by attackers to host a phishing page to steal DHL users' credentials. According to MalwareHunterTeam who discovered this phishing instance on the site of Nigerian National Assembly (NASS), the fraudulent page was operating for more than two weeks.
With Nigeria having a maligned history with online frauds, the latest incident indicates that even government sites are not spared.
Worth noting
  • MalwareHunterTeam (MHT) also identified a number of malicious URLs impersonating NASS possibly linked to other phishing activities.
  • Some of these sites also evaded anti-phishing measures set up in most computer systems.
  • MHT said that the phishing kit connected to these sites was active since 2017 as well as was used by many attackers.
  • The fake DHL page was shoddily designed and also displayed a “Norton Secured” picture next to the DHL logo.
  • The fields for credentials showed an error if a user enters his/her email and password registered under DHL.
Why it matters?
BleepingComputer, which reported on this DHL phishing scam, suggested that user credentials might be up for sale in the dark web. “No matter how many times credentials are submitted, there's the same outcome. Once they get them, cybercriminals can sell them on underground forums for as little as $10 apiece,” it reported.
On the other hand, malicious sites posing as NASS are also believed to provide grounds for other malicious activities apart from phishing

Ryan Stewart

Ryan is a senior cybersecurity and privacy analyst. He keenly follows the innovation and development in cybersecurity technologies, and loves to educate everyone about the what, why, and how of major incidents in the cybersecurity world.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Media suppression and CNN effect

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Dapchi: CASA Seeks Independent Investigation, Tasks Buhari on Release of Schoolgirls - thisdaylive.com

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Council for African Security Affairs (CASA) has called on the Nigerian government to allow for independent investigation of the abduction of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Yobe State.

CASA in a statement made available Saturday by its Secretary, Mr. Oludare Ogunlana, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari for the immediate release of the missing girls.


 
The group also appealed to Boko Haram to release the affected children immediately without any condition for humanitarian sake.

But Ogunlana said “the Nigerian government must use all instruments of power in her possession, including diplomatic, law enforcement and military to secure the release of the kidnapped schoolgirls.

“One of the campaign promises of President Buhari is to defend the nation against an external and internal adversary like Boko Haram. Hence, the deeds must be equal to words because if a leader says he will act against a terrorist threat, then he must act. Failure to act against a credible terrorist threat does considerable damage to a nation’s credibility and its international reputation.”

He said the attack in the North East zone of Nigeria requires an independent investigation to establish the cause of the incident and clear the suspicion of Internal collaboration threats and conspiracy between some bad eggs within the government circles, the military and Boko Haram.

Ogunlana said it was embarrassing that the kidnapping occurred despite credible and actionable intelligence provided to the Federal government, Army and other security agencies by its own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

To this end, he called on the International Community, especially the United Nations, to investigate the cause of the incident.

He further stated: “Nigerians are fast losing confidence in their leaders for not being able to deliver good governance and protect the innocent citizens from incessant terrorists’ attacks. As a responsible government, someone must be held responsible and accountable for the recent incident because the evidence was overwhelming to support the fact that Boko Haram group was about to kidnap the girls, but the government failed to act on that credible intelligence. Terrorists will always strike, it is not a surprise but how our leaders handle the situation is of primary concern to everybody and the international community.

“While the government is yet to secure the entire release of the Chibok girls despite large ransom being paid to the terrorist group by the President Buhari-led administration, the recent abduction of 110 girls in Dapchi shows that Nigerian government never learned from the past. The recent occurrence shows the level of gross negligence, incompetence and apparent example of leadership failure at all levels, including both the political class and top military hierarchy who failed to act when it was necessary. Nigeria should wake up and learn from the past mistakes.

“Today, the Boko Haram terrorist group and other militias like Fulani Herdsmen are emboldened due to lack of coherence in government approach to national security, including lack of commitment and comprehensive security policy to prevent, deter and respond to common crimes and incident of terrorism

“Furthermore, there is an apparent lack of coordination and cooperation between, military, police and the state government. The refusal of the Buhari-led administration to release the fund to security and military agencies to perform their operational, and strategic responsibility such as training, intelligence gathering, acquisition of military hardware and payment of necessary risk allowances to men and officers risking their lives to defend the nation is worrisome.

“This kind of lack of commitment on the part of the federal government to fund the Military and law enforcement agencies has galvanised the level of incompetence and low morale among the security personnel.”

CASA said Nigerian government must realise that the war against terrorism cannot be won through lies and propaganda; and that the government must unite Nigerians behind its efforts.

The war on terror, he said, remains a generational struggle, and the entire nation must be engaged and prepared to participate in this effort.

Culled from www.thisdaylive.com/

Friday, 24 November 2017

285 killed, 300 wounded in terrorist attack in Egypt - Homeland Security Newswire

A packed mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai was attacked by gunman earlier today, at the height of Friday prayers. The gunmen set off explosives and opened fire, killing at least 285 people and wounding about 300 in the deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic terrorists.
The Guardian reports that the attack took place at the Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, about forty kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of el-Arish.
The Sinai has seen repeated deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the last four years.
Sky News Arabia said Egyptian military forces had destroyed two vehicles carrying perpetrators of the attack.
An army spokesperson told the TV network that unmanned drones had attacked two cars in a desert area called al-Risha, killing fifteen militants. He added that the hunt for other perpetrators was ongoing.
Witnesses said the attackers surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles, then planted a bomb outside. The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshipers as they attempted to flee, and used the congregants’ own vehicles to prevent rescuers and police from getting near the mosque.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi convened his security ministers to deal with the attack.
Egyptian officials said men in four off-road vehicles detonated an explosive device at the mosque during the sermon at Friday prayers, then opened fire on worshipers as they fled the building. After killing or wounding most of those fleeing the attack, a few of the militants entered the mosque and shot dozens of wounded worshippers who were trapped inside the building.
Other militants remained outside, shooting at ambulances which tried to pick up the wounded.
The Guardian notes that ISIS’s Egyptian branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.
The Egyptian military has struggled to defeat the jihadists, and in the past few months has increased cooperation with the Israeli military.
Until recently, the jihadists targeted mostly soldiers and members of Egypt’s security forces, but since earlier this year have increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the Egyptian army.

Monday, 29 May 2017

FBI warned MI5 that Salman Abedi was planning terror attack in U.K. - Homeland Security Newswire

The FBI informed MI5, the British intelligence agency, that Salman Abedi was planning an attack on U.K. soil — three months before he blew himself up a concert hall in Manchester. 
Mail on Sunday reports that the FBI told MI5 that Abedi was part of a North African Islamic State cell based in the north west of England, and which was plotting attacks in the United Kingdom.
Informed sources say that Abedi was placed on a U.S. terrorist watch list in 2016 after U.S. intelligence, while monitoring Islamist groups operating in Libya, noticed his communications with one of the groups.
“In early 2017 the FBI told MI5 that Abedi belonged to a North African terror gang based in Manchester, which was looking for a political target in this country,” a security source told the Mail on Sunday.
“The information came from the interception of his communications by U.S. federal agents, who had been investigating Abedi since the middle of 2016, and from information unearthed in Libya, where his family was linked to terrorist groups.
“Following this U.S. tip-off, Abedi and other members of the gang were scrutinized by MI5. It was thought at the time that Abedi was planning to assassinate a political figure. But nothing came of this investigation and, tragically, he slipped down the pecking order of targets.”
MI5’s procedures have been questions as a result of what many see as the ability of Abedi to slip through the net, but the U.K. law enforcement, intelligence, and defense officials highlight the fact that at any one time they are conducting about 500 terror investigations involving 3,000 individuals (these investigations look not only at would-be terrorists, but also at their support network).
The British police has arrested fourteen people on suspicion of being part of the network which aided Abedi (two of whom have since been released).
The Manchester police say that they believe they have arrested “a large part of the network” involved in planning the attack.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cyber attacks ten years on: from disruption to disinformation By Tom Sear - Homeland Security Wire


Today – 27 April — marks the tenth anniversary of the world’s first major coordinated “cyberattack” on a nation’s internet infrastructure: Russian government hackers attacked the computer systems of the government of Estonia in retaliation for what Russia considered to be an insult to the sacrifices of the Red Army during the Second World War. This little-known event set the scene for the onrush of cyber espionage, fake news, and information wars we know today. A cybersecurity expert recently told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that to understand current Russian active measures and influence campaigns — that is, to understand cyber operations in the twenty-first century – we must first understand intelligence operations in the twentieth century. Understanding the history of cyber operations will be critical for developing strategies to combat them. Narrowly applying models from military history and tactics will offer only specific gains in an emerging ecosystem of “information age strategies.” If nations wish to defend themselves, they will need to understand culture as much as coding.

Today is the tenth anniversary of the world’s first major coordinated “cyberattack” on a nation’s internet infrastructure. This little-known event set the scene for the onrush of cyber espionage, fake news, and information wars we know today.

In 2007, operators took advantage of political unrest to unleash a series of cyber measures on Estonia, as a possible form of retribution for symbolically rejecting a Soviet version of history. It was a new, coordinated approach that had never been seen before.
Today, shaping contemporary views of historical events is a relatively common focus of coordinated digital activity, such as China’s use of social media to create war commemoration and Russia Today’s live-tweeting the Russian Revolution as its centenary approaches.

In 2017 and into the future, it will be essential to combine insights from the humanities, particularly from history, with analysis from information operations experts in order to maintain cybersecurity.
Estonia ground to a halt
A dispute over a past war triggered what might be called the first major “cyber attack.”
On 27 April 2007 the government of Estonia moved the “Soldier of Tallinn” – a bronze statue that commemorated the Soviet Army of the Second World War – from the center of the city to a military cemetery on Tallinn’s outskirts. The action followed an extensive debate over the interpretation of Estonia’s past. A “history war” concerning the role of the Soviet Union in Estonia during and after the Second World War had split Estonian society.

Several days of violent confrontation followed the statue’s removal. The Russian-speaking population rioted. The protests led to 1,300 arrests, 100 injuries, and one death. The disturbance became known as “Bronze Night.”
A more serious disruption followed, and the weapons were not Molotov cocktails, but thousands of computers. For almost three weeks, a series of massive cyber operations targeted Estonia.
The disruption – which peaked on 9 May when Moscow celebrates Victory Day – brought down banks, the media, police, government networks and emergency services. Bots, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and spam were marshalled with a sophistication not seen before. Their combined effects brought one of the most digital-reliant societies in the world to a grinding halt.

The Tallinn Manual
In the aftermath, NATO responded by developing the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia. A major contribution of the center was the publication of the Tallinn Manual in 2013 – a comprehensive study of how international law applied to cyber conflict. The initial manual focused on disabling, state-based attacks that amount to acts of war.
Tallinn 2.0 was released in February 2017. In the foreword, Estonian politician Toomas Hendrik Ives argues: “In retrospect, these were fairly mild and simple DDoS attacks, far less damaging than what has followed. Yet it was the first time one could apply the Clausewitzean dictum: War is the continuation of policy by other means.”
The focus of the new manual reveals just how much the world of cyber operations has changed in the ten years since Bronze Night. It heralds a concerning future where all aspects of society, not just military and governmental infrastructure, are subject to active cyber operations.
Now the scope for digital incursions by one nation on another is much wider, and more widespread. Everything from the personal data of citizens held in government servers to digitized cultural heritage collections have become issues of concern to international cyber law experts.

A decade of cyber operations
In the ten years since 2007 we have lived in an era where persistent cyber operations are coincident with international armed combat. The conflict between Georgia (2008) and Russia, and ongoing conflict in the Ukraine (since 2014) are consistent with this.
These operations have extended beyond conventional conflict zones via intrusion of civic and governmental structures.
There are claims of nation-state actors active measures and DDoS incidents (similar to those that may have disabled last year’s Australian census) on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in 2009.
German investigators found a penetration of the Bundestag in May 2015.
The Dutch found penetration in government computers relating to MH17 reports.
Now, famously, we know there were infiltrations between 2015-16 into U.S. Democratic party computers. Revealed in the last few days, researchers have identified phishing domains targeting French political campaigns.
There are even concerns that, as Professor Greg Austin has explained, cyber espionage might be a threat to Australian democracy.
Recently, the digital forensics of a computer hacked in 1998 as part of an operation tagged Moonlight Maze revealed that it is possible that the same code and threat actor have been involved in operations since at least that time. Perhaps a 20-year continuous cyber espionage campaign has been active.
Thomas Rid, Professor in Security Studies at King’s College London, recently addressed the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence regarding Russian active measures and influence campaigns. He expressed his opinion that understanding cyber operations in the twenty-first century is impossible without first understanding intelligence operations in the twentieth century. Rid said: “This is a field that’s not understanding its own history. It goes without saying that if you want to understand the present or the future, you have to understand the past.”

Targeting information and opinion
Understanding the history of cyber operations will be critical for developing strategies to combat them. But narrowly applying models from military history and tactics will offer only specific gains in an emerging ecosystem of “information age strategies.”
The international response to the “attack” on Estonia was to replicate war models of defense and offence. But analysis of the last ten years shows that is not the only way in which cyber conflict has evolved. Even the popular media adopted term “cyberattack” is not now less encouraged for incidents smaller than Estonia as it masks the vulnerability and risk of the cyber security spectrum.
Since Estonia 2007, internet-based incursions and interference have escalated massively, but their targets have become more diffuse. Direct attacks on a nation’s defense forces, while more threatening, may in the future be less common than those that target information and opinion.
At the time, the attack on national infrastructure in Estonia seemed key, but looking back it was merely driving a wedge into an existing polarization in society, which seems to be a pivotal tactic.
Nations like Australia are more vulnerable than ever to cyber threats, but their public focus is becoming more distributed, and their goal will be to change attitudes, opinions and beliefs.
A decade ago in Estonia, a cyber war erupted from a history war. The connection between commemoration and information war is stronger than ever, and if nations wish to defend themselves, they will need to understand culture as much as coding.

Tom Sear is Ph.D. Candidate, Australian Centre for Australian Centre for Cyber Security, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW. This article is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution / No derivative).

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Tech coalition fights DHS proposal to collect social media passwords - Homeland Security News Wire

Earlier this week, the Center for Democracy & Technology announced the creation of a coalition of tech companies, NGOs, and privacy advocates to oppose efforts by DHS to collect social media passwords from individuals entering the United States.

TechCrunch reports that the coalition focuses on visa applicants who might be compelled to share their passwords under new DHS policies.
“DHS should take the idea of making blanket demands for passwords off the table,” Center for Democracy & Technology Free Expression Project Director Emma Llansó told TechCrunch. “The idea is unbelievably invasive and will put U.S. citizens and foreign travelers alike at risk.”
Last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) sent a letter to DHS secretary John Kelly, in which the senator pointedly criticized government agencies requesting access to locked devices and social media accounts.

The full statement from the Center for Democracy & Technology:
The undersigned coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations, trade associations, and experts in security, technology, and the law expresses deep concern about the comments made by Secretary John Kelly at the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on February 7th, 2017, suggesting the Department of Homeland Security could require non-citizens to provide the passwords to their social media accounts as a condition of entering the country.
We recognize the important role that DHS plays in protecting the United States’ borders and the challenges it faces in keeping the U.S. safe, but demanding passwords or other account credentials without cause will fail to increase the security of U.S. citizens and is a direct assault on fundamental rights.

This proposal would enable border officials to invade people’s privacy by examining years of private emails, texts, and messages. It would expose travelers and everyone in their social networks, including potentially millions of U.S. citizens, to excessive, unjustified scrutiny. And it would discourage people from using online services or taking their devices with them while traveling and would discourage travel for business, tourism, and journalism.

Demands from U.S. border officials for passwords to social media accounts will also set a precedent that may ultimately affect all travelers around the world. This demand is likely to be mirrored by foreign governments, which will demand passwords from U.S. citizens when they seek entry to foreign countries. This would compromise U.S. economic security, cybersecurity, and national security, as well as damage the U.S.’s relationships with foreign governments and their citizenry.

Policies to demand passwords as a condition of travel, as well as more general efforts to force individuals to disclose their online activity, including potentially years’ worth of private and public communications, create an intense, chilling effect on individuals. Freedom of expression and press rights, access to information, rights of association, and religious liberty are all put at risk by these policies.

The first rule of online security is simple: Do not share your passwords. No government agency should undermine security, privacy, and other rights with a blanket policy of demanding passwords from individuals.

Culled from Homeland Security News Wire

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

UN envoy strongly condemns attack on UN team near Nigeria-Cameroon border - UN News

Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Head of United Nations for West Africa (UN Photo)
1 February 2017 – Strongly condemning an attack against a United Nations monitoring team near the Nigeria-Cameroon border that resulted in the death of five persons, the UN envoy for West Africa and the Sahel region, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, called on both countries to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to preliminary reports, at around 14:00 hours, yesterday, an unknown armed group attacked a UN Technical Monitoring Team, killing five individuals – a UN independent contractor, three Nigerians nationals and one Cameroonian national – and injuring several others.
The team was conducting a field mission in the vicinity of Hosere Jongbi, near Kontcha, Cameroon, about 700 kilometres north of the capital Yaoundé, as part of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission mandate.
In a news release issued by the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Chambas reiterated the vital role of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission in accomplishing the border demarcation, in compliance with a judgment of the International Court of Justice, and in contributing to stability and security in the region.
He also offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
The Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission was established by the UN Secretary-General, at the request of Presidents of Cameroon and Nigeria, in 2002, to settle border issues between the two West African neighbours.
The Mixed Commission’s mandate includes demarcation of the land boundary and delimitation of the maritime boundary between the two countries; withdrawal of troops and transfer of authority in the Lake Chad area, along the land boundary and in the Bakassi Peninsula; addressing the situation of populations affected by the demarcation activities; and development of recommendations on confidence-building measures aiming at promoting peaceful cross-border cooperation.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Nigeria has failed to stamp out Boko Haram in Buhari’s first year in power - Homeland Security Newswire

President Muhammadu Buhari
When Muhammadu Buhari — a former general and, for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s, the military ruler of Ngeria — was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May 2015, he promised to “stamp out” Boko Haram within twelve months. Security analysts note that despite some progress, he has failed to do so. Critics of Buhari say that while Boko Haram has been pushed back and has lost large swaths of territory it used to control, Buhari’s heavy-handed approach to unrest or dissent of any kind in Nigeria has created more problems.

When Muhammadu Buhari — a former general and, for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s, the military ruler of Nigeria — was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May 2015, he promised to “stamp out” Boko Haram within twelve months.

Security analysts note that despite some progress, he has failed to do so.
Critics of Buhari say that while Boko Haram has been pushed back and has lost large swaths of territory it used to control, Buhari’s heavy-handed approach to unrest or dissent of any kind in Nigeria has created more problems.

NAIJ reports that earlier this month, at a summit in Abuja which included representatives from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger. France, the United States, Britain, and the EU, Buhari admitted that the pledge he made a year ago was more difficult to fulfill than he had thought.
Most of the progress in the fight against Boko Haram was the result of the intervention of Nigeria’s neighbors – especially Chad and Niger – whose armies and air forces have proved much more effective and competent in the campaign against Boko Haram. In January 2015 these neighbors of Nigeria gave the then-president Goodluck Jonathan an ultimatum: Boko Haram was spreading its terrorism to neighboring countries, and these neighbors were going to pursue the Islamist militants into Nigeria with or without the approval of the Nigerian government. Faced with a tough election campaign against Buhari – an election he would lose – Jonathan agreed for the armies of Nigeria’s neighbors to fight Boko haram on Nigerian soil, and Boko Haram has been in retreat ever since.
The United States and Britain have each sent about 300 troops to Nigeria and the neighboring countries in a training and advisory capacity, but at the summit, Buhari said that to defeat Boko Haram, an expanded international effort was required.
“I believe Buhari is acknowledging … that it is not easy for the military to just go out there and eliminate Boko Haram,” Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies told al-Jazeera. “The rural areas have always been neglected when it comes to security and that has always been the problem – the ungoverned places.”

Since Buhari has taken office, the Nigerian army have evicted  Boko Haram from territory which was under the Islamists’ control, and the number and frequency of terrorist attacks has fallen significantly.
Analysts note, though, that the 276 Chibok schoolgirl hostages abducted in 2014 have not yet been rescued, and that faced by more determined military pressure, Boko Haram is resorting to wider use of suicide bombings, carried out by women and children, and increased attrition, including more hostage-taking.

The 2015 Global Terrorism Index, a survey by the New York-based Institute for Economics and Peace, Boko Haram remains the most deadly terrorist group in the world.
Security analysts note that Boko Haram, once a local hardline Islamist movement, is transforming into a regional jihadist threat. The continuing humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad basin allow Boko Haram’s Islamist message to resonate – ad the experts say that Buhari should adopt a more constructive approach, beyond crude military suppression tactics, to fighting the Islamist insurgency.

In a statement linked to the Abuja summit, the UN Security Council called on regional states to pursue “a comprehensive strategy to address the governance, security, development, socio-economic and humanitarian dimensions of the crisis.”

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said Boko Haram was “seemingly on a back foot, but it is unlikely to be eliminated in a decisive battle.” Regional powers should “move beyond military cooperation and design a more holistic local and regional response.”
The ICG said that Nigeria and its allies should more effectively exploit information gathered from captured fighters, abductees, defectors, and civilians in newly recaptured areas.
Nnamdi Obasi, the ICG’s senior analyst for Nigeria, warned that Buhari’s tough approach was having a negative knock-on effect in other Nigerian trouble spots. He pointed to the south-east, where Igbo secessionist groups are demanding the restoration of the republic of Biafra. Igbo separatists declared their independence from Nigeria in the early 1970 and the creation of an Igbo-majority Biafra, but the Nigerian military crushed the Igbo, killing about 1.5 million civilians.

The IGC’s Obasi notes that Nigeria’s Middle Belt has seen increasing levels of violence between local communities, while the 2009 peace deal that ended the insurgency in the oil-rich Niger Delta is coming apart. Emerging militant groups in Nigeria include the Niger Delta Avengers and the Egbesu Mightier Fraternity.

Peaceful demonstrations had been met with harsh punitive measures and arbitrary arrests.
“Both groups have sent the government their lists of demands, mostly for local control of oil revenues, threatening even more crippling attacks if they are ignored. The government’s response – deploying more military assets and threatening an unmitigated crackdown – portends an escalation of the violence,” Obasi said.

Culled from http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/dr20160602-nigeria-has-failed-to-stamp-out-boko-haram-in-buhari-s-first-year-in-power

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Echo from Imperial College: Remove the licensing obstacle for Nigeria to enjoy stable power supply- OlawepoG

Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim
For Nigeria to enjoy a stable power supply, it must dismantle the delay in licensing of Independent Power Projects (IPPs( and the signing of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through an executive guideline for the industry that defines Standard Operating Procedures for agencies and institutions.

According to ‎Mr Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, who spoke at the annual lecture of Nigerian Student Society, Imperial College, London, processing license applications and signing of PPA should not take more than 90-120 days, revealing that "currently it takes 2-3 years when in fact, a complete power plant could be delivered between 18 -24 months.‎"

Speaking on the topic: Nigeria: facilitating resilient and sustainable infrastructural development, he urged the Federal Government to "make Sovereign Guarantee available to all PPAs that the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) concludes and with the requisite 90-120 days LC to ensure bankability of such agreements."

Olawepo asserts that when distribution companies and eligible customers are licensed, "they should be able to sign PPA with the Generating Companies (GENCOs) and IPPs for the supply of Power without the undue meddlesomeness of the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC). This is the provision of the Electricity Sector Reform Act, and this is what it should be."

He stressed the need for more attention to be paid to sanctioning operators particularly in the distribution sector, especially those who have not delivered on their terms of purchase of their network as the entire value chain depends on effectiveness at this level.

‎Emphasising the importance of IPP producers In the sector, he, however, described Nigeria as an important Nation not only on account of her oil wealth but the significance of the energy of her people, "whose creativity and resilient spirit of enterprise continues to assure her progress even in the face of seemingly hopeless situations."

His words: ‎"It is due to the hard-work and industry of the ordinary Nigerians- the nation’s greatest asset, that Nigeria attained a GDP rebased at $510 billion in 2013 exceeding that of South Africa to become the biggest African economy even in the face of her parlous infrastructure.

"The feat is the result of the toiling of small-scale   entrepreneurs, who continue to create value without adequate electricity, cottage food processors, without affordable financing, farmers without the scantest of state support; artisans, bold and imaginative businessmen and women, dynamic financial managers, young innovators creative artisans and hardworking professionals.

"Remarkably, Price Water Cooper predicts that the country’s economy will probably grow to be the 9th largest economy in the world by 2050. The basis for this has already been laid over the past ten years with the country recording 6-7% annual growth consistently. In 2015, even with the collapse in oil price - the country’s major export - the economy still managed to grow at 2.8% compared to 1.2% of South Africa; 1.5% in the Euro Zone;  -2.6% in Brazil and 2.0 % in the US last quarter. These occurred despite more than fifty per cent collapse in oil revenue and slowdown in government business due to the inauguration of a new government.


"Growth in the Nigeria Economy is expected to be sustained as the economy has acquired a resilience beyond oil and natural resource exploitation that accounts for only 14% of GDP as long as the political and security situation remains stable.

"Nigeria has also recorded a robust expansion of her middle class, which Standard Bank reported has grown by six-folds between the year 2000 and 2010.

"The Nigerian diaspora community is an integral part of the Nigeria growth story. In 2013, foreign remittances to Nigeria was a record $21billion USD.  This forms part of the incredible contributions of Nigerians abroad, innovators, small business operators and ordinary folks eking out a living for themselves in the hard-way, - picking up tough jobs that a lot of people in their host communities ignore.

"Brilliant people of Nigerian decent stand up daily to be counted as part of the positive pages of the rising Nigerian story. The Imafidon twins Paula and Peter broke the world mathematic record passing the Cambridge Advanced Level Math at age 8, the youngest ever to do so. Chinedu Echeruo, the founder of Hopstop.com purchased by Apple at a price of $1billion USD, is blazing the trail in the ICT world.

"Dr Victor Olalusi who scored 5.0 CGPA at the Faculty of Clinical Sciences at Russian National Medical University in 2013, arguably the first in the world to do so are among a growing list of sterling performers.

"Back home in 2012, four Nigerian teenage girls namely Duro Aina, Akindele Adeola, Faleke Oluwatoyin and Bello Eniola figured a way to generate electricity from urine to power a generator for six hours.

"Recently, 24-year-old Oluwatobi Olasunkanmi won the William Charnley Prize for the best First Class in Law at the University of Cambridge. Right here in this hall we have Mervin Azeta, a female Chemical Engineer who has just completed her Master’s degree here at Imperial with a distinction, having achieved a first class honour in her first degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and I know there are similar more stories of great achievers in this gathering today.

"This is the Nigerian spirit that turns out outstanding achievers from the harshest imaginable environment," he said, expressing optimism that ‎"in the next ten years if her hardworking people can enjoy the infrastructure support that their peers in comparable middle-income countries take for granted. I suspect this is one of the reasons why the ICNS has invited us to explore the topic.

"On Transportation infrastructure, while road transport remains widely in use with the countries road network expanding from 6000 km at independence to 197,000km in 2012 only about 18% of the roads are paved. The roads and bridges are in various states of disrepair; air and water transportation are below acceptable standards and our ports and railways services are in a near state of complete abandon.

He lamented the non-completion of any new greenfield port over the last four decades despite a rapidly expanding economy, quoting AFDP 2013 study that revealed that "of all the freight that arrived Nigerian port, only 0.2% throughput traveled by rail."

He continued: "The oil refineries are in an incredibly bad shape. Nigeria, the 5th largest producer of oil, has turned into a net importer of petroleum products due to the shameful state of gas and pipeline infrastructure. Hospitals and Educational facilities are in a state of decay crippled by the manacles of poor maintenance and underdevelopment.

"The reasons for the infrastructure decay are not far-fetched. They include; lack of adequate investment from both the public and the private sector, lack of adequate maintenance programme and capacity building issues.

"In order to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure for the purpose of supporting the desired economic growth target and socioeconomic development objectives, the AFDP forecasts Nigeria requires $350 billion USD CAPEX investment over a period of nine years. It also estimates that $100billion USD is required over the same period as OPEX investment.

‎As a way out, he said that once policy makers and implementers summon the will to take immediately far-reaching actions that are focused and sustained along the following lines, achievements will come in.

He advocated the reordering of government expenditure to allow for commitment of at least fifty per cent of government revenue to Capital Expenditure in the 2016 budget and with the aim of increasing to sixty per cent and seventy per cent in 2017 and 2018 budget cycle respectively.

"The Federal Government should embark on Contractor financed infrastructure projects based on internationally benchmarked pricing; in the construction of rail tracks, the supply of locomotives and coaches, and other critical infrastructure. Such selected projects must have the necessary projected cash –flow to pay back to qualify for approval.

"There should be an immediate bid process for the concession of two sites for the construction of two greenfield ports in areas with the natural port depths.

Immediate elimination of bureaucratic curtains, red tapes and elimination of duplication of regulatory approvals for private sector direct investment in infrastructural development as now common in the power sector. This is to be achieved by the instrumentality of a sectorial guideline that institutes a Standard Operating Procedure detailing the timeline for processing applications with a high-level audit system of the processes.

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