Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr.
The rising insecurity in Nigeria gives one concern. Every other day, we hear or read about one form of killing or the other occurring in various parts of the country.
Here’s what bothers me the most: we seem not to be doing enough in terms of using technology to improve national security and I am not referring to purchasing state-of-the-art fighter jets or sophisticated weapons; I am referring to simple things like fixing our national identity system once and for all and using technology to create more jobs.
The world is rapidly moving beyond the 21st century and we cannot afford to play catch up.
Quite frankly, can Nigeria achieve security of all her territory, which includes land and sea without the use of technology? Are we making the right investments in that direction or just playing lip service to the issue of national security?
The last couple of years have seen Nigeria grapple with one security challenge or the other. The most recent is the herdsmen challenge that has deeply divided this country.
One wonders what is stopping us from investing in solutions that can electronically tag every single cow in the country to their owners such that we know where they are at every point in time and as such monitoring becomes a lot easier. This is the type of challenge that blockchain is designed to solve.
May I inform those close to the seat of power that one of the biggest challenges before us is fixing our national identity crisis. We need to sort out who is who, where who resides, who owns what and so on.
Here’s a roll call of the data collection ceremonies that have been done by various government establishments as well as private organisations – Nigeria Identity Management Commission; Central Bank of Nigeria’s BVN; Nigeria Communications Commission; the Telcos; the Independent National Electoral Commission; and the Federal Road Safety Commission.
One wonders why the unnecessary and wasteful continuous collection of citizens’ data by different government establishments yet there is shamefully no coordinated effort to centralise the entire process. The willpower to pull all these data into a central database is the first way to go towards using technology to aid our national security.
In more developed countries of the world, birth and death registration in addition to unifying various identification initiatives play significant roles in national security especially when combined with DNA, facial recognition and finger printing technologies which operate on platforms provided by ICT. And that is why it is usually less cumbersome tracing and tracking down terrorist groups or criminal gangs in such countries.
Investment in drones and robotics
Maybe our military have unarmed aircraft and equipment which I am not aware of but if you ask me, I believe that is something we must take very seriously especially for dangerous operations like gathering intelligence in a difficult to reach terrain.
Here’s an excerpt of a CNN report on US Navy’s submarine-hunting drone:
“The Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Vessel would be able to operate with little supervisory control but also as remotely controlled or piloted vessels, depending on the circumstances of specific missions.
“We’re looking for test-ready, multi-sensor approaches that push the boundaries of today’s automated sensing systems for unmanned surface vessels,” said Scott Littlefield, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program manager. DARPA is a Pentagon research group.
The lesson here is that we cannot but spend big on research and development.
There is simply no way we can escape investing in advanced technologies with the rising challenges of insecurity. I admit that the chances of collateral damage are possibly higher with drones but the point for me is having the capacity and modern technological inventions to protect our country whenever the need arises. This is simply the reality of today’s society and what modern policing is all about.
I believe that it will help improve surveillance, which is a deliberate system of keeping a close watch on the behaviour or activities of persons, groups, organisations and institutions suspected of doing something illegal or warehousing information capable of causing a breach of security by government’s security agencies.
Other modern technologies such as surveillance cameras, social network analysis, bio-metric surveillance, data mining and profiling, corporate surveillance, satellite imagery, RFID and Geo-location devices are required to mount surveillance on suspected targets.
Intelligence gathering has actually moved from what it used to be a few years ago when it was mostly done manually. It has now moved to a point where technology is playing a critical role.
Today, ICT tools such as the internet, mobile telephony system, social media networks and the media have become veritable platforms for intelligence gathering efforts of our security agencies so long as they observe the ethics of using these technologies for intelligence gathering purposes.
One issue that needs to be tackled going forward is using technology to ensure that there is proper co-operation and coordination amongst security agencies.
Through the deployment of cutting-edge technologies, security agencies can minimise duplication of efforts, guard against the mishandling of information as well as enhance information sharing among themselves.
Coordination can also mean pulling the nation’s data into a coordinated and centralised database as a proactive means of combating insecurity.
Reports show that the United States and some countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even in Africa are taking proactive steps towards checkmating threats to their national security by investing more in the latest technologies.
Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the men and women of our security forces for the good job they do with limited resources but the government should heed the words of Chris Uwaje, popularly called the Oracle of the IT industry, “The wars of the future will be fought in the cyberspace and we need to focus on building our capacity.”
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