The president of Nigeria recently delivered a blistering speech condemning the common “Nigerian Prince” stereotype that the nation is full of scamming cybercriminals.
Cybercrime remains a big issue in Nigeria, with the economic impact being $500 million annually. Speaking at Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission last week, President Bola Tinubu explained that cybercrime had damaged the country’s international reputation, but he stressed that it’s not just a Nigeria problem. Rather, fraud and other types of cyberattacks are a “global phenomenon that must be tackled at all costs,” he said.
“Today’s world is run real time on the Internet. Governance, businesses, institutions and even individual domestic affairs are dependent on the internet,” he said. “Cybercriminals are, therefore, a threat to the rest of the world. This is why no effort or expense should be spared in confronting the evil. I want to assure the EFCC that the government will continue to offer its support in its quest to kill the dragon that internet offences have become.”
Against that backdrop, it’s important to fight the perception that the African country is “a nation of fraudsters,” a characterization he said was “unfair, untenable, and unacceptable.”
Youth’s Role in Cybercrime
Also at the event, Ola Olukoyede, chairman of the EFCC, voiced concern over young people playing an increasingly greater role in cybercrime. He warned of “the danger of having a tribe of future leaders whose outlook in life is that fraud and corruption are the stairways to fame and fortune.”
Olukoyede said he believes that the best way to tackle this issue is by encouraging young people to pursue fulfilling careers that use the same skills.
He said: “It is our view that academia can contribute more to the anti-corruption fight through mentorship, as youths in today’s fast-paced world need close supervision to navigate their path to success and purposeful living.”
In a different recent address to the EFCC, Chidiebere Ihediwa, a Nigerian cybersecurity specialist, echoed that theme, noting that online scammers and fraudsters should be retrained as information technology specialists.