By Chijioke Okoronkwo, Kaduna.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the assignment of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) transcends the training of combatants to the production of warrior-scholars and innovators.
Osinbajo was the Special Guest of Honour at the 32nd Convocation Ceremony of NDA for Cadets of 69 Regular Course, Post-Graduate Students and Honorary Degree Awardees on Tuesday in Kaduna.
The vice-president said that with the trend of crime globally, it had become imperative for NDA products to be equipped with the requisite knowledge to protect the Nigerian digital domain.
“The mission of the NDA is not just to train combatants but to produce warrior-scholars in the finest martial-intellectual traditions.
“It has fallen on you to be the generation of warrior-scholars and innovators that will confront our enemies with an arsenal of unconventional skills, unorthodox strategies and critical thinking.
“It has fallen on you to be thought-leaders that will advance development, both on and off the battlefield.’’
Osinbajo listed the signposts and contexts of this new security environment.
He said: “First, the military must prepare to contend with the mix of asymmetric conflicts, hybrid warfare, insurgencies and armed criminal activities perpetrated by criminal non-state actors.
“These are conflicts that are novel in their viciousness, but dated in their origins – they include the new threats of mass kidnapping for ransom and military leverage, the use of victims as human shields.
“We now have to deal with the access that these criminal gangs and insurgents have to sophisticated weapons and lethal ordinance, the new possibilities of access to even more lethal and more devastating weaponry from the dark web and an ever-growing economy in illegal arms and ammunition.
“How do you engage a vicious lawless enemy along the lines of the Geneva Convention? What are the new rules of engagement with well-equipped criminal non-state actors?
“The second context that we must take note of is the realities of living in the digital age; digitisation has created a whole new world, cyberspace, where all transactions and activities — commercial, social, financial and even crucial military intelligence — take place,’’ he said.
The vice-president said that the virtual world required protection and security from enemies and malefactors, including the threat of hacking and other forms of cyber warfare.
He said that such cyberwarfare could inflict damage on Nigeria’s cyber-infrastructure and compromise critical economic sectors like telecommunications and financial services.
Osinbajo said that policies and legislation to protect Nigeria’s cyberspace had been put in place.
“The proliferation of digital channels and the rapid growth of mobile banking raises new concerns about data privacy and security as well as vulnerabilities to malware infections designed to steal money which, if unaddressed, could subvert our economy.
“We see cyberspace as part of our strategic domain and have rolled out legislative and policy measures in the form of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 and the National Data Protection Policy to safeguard our cyber infrastructure.
“Indeed, the Cybercrimes Act provides for the designation of computer systems and data networks as constituting Critical National Information Infrastructure.
“The National Cyber Security Policy designates the financial services sector and other sectors as National Critical Information Infrastructure.
“So, there is no doubt that the digital domain is one of the frontiers that your generation of our armed forces will be increasingly tasked to defend; more broadly, it is clear that we cannot secure or defend a country of this size with human assets alone; we must leverage technology.’’
The vice-president said that at a time when national resources were stretched thin, the nation must come up with technology-driven solutions to address its security needs.
According to him, tech-knowledge is needed in policing of the borders or acquiring intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools, aimed at identifying criminal elements within the coastal waters or locating terrorists hiding within the general population.
He said: “We must become savvier in the deployment of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools to complement our human resources.
“The third strategic context that we must be cognisant of is that of climate change and its implications for national security and military planning.
“Aside from the threat of environmental damage as a threat multiplier, desert encroachment and severe weather conditions create new socio-economic problems.”
Osinbajo said that Nigeria must rigorously consider the implications of the shifts in its national defence apparatus, as it was pursuing energy transition.
The vice president said that it was worth setting as a goal for Nigeria’s defence and security sector, an equivalent energy transition strategy for its military.
“The quest for clean energy leads inevitably to considering new options for civilian as well as military uses.
“This is a challenge to which your generation must apply itself.
“The fourth context we must consider is that of building our local defence capabilities.
“Today, the procurement of arms is often subjected to the vagaries of geo-politics, geo-economics and the caprices of the international arms industry,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Commandant of NDA, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the vice-president’s presence was a great honour to the institution and the graduands.
The event featured conferment of degrees, presentation of certificates and academic prizes, admission of post-graduate graduands into NDA alumni and award of honorary degrees, among others.