Coalition Supports NSA’s Push for Cybersecurity Levy Implementation

A coalition under the aegis of NIGERIA FIRST PROJECT (NF-PRO) has backed the National Security Advicer’s move to implement cyber security levy on Nigerians.

Recall that the CBN on May 6, 2024, issued a circular mandating all banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers to implement a new cybersecurity levy, following the provisions laid out in the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) (Amendment) Act 2024.

The introduction of the new levy sparked varied reactions among stakeholders as it is expected to raise the cost of conducting business in Nigeria and could potentially hinder the growth of digital transaction adoption.

The reactions prompted President Bola Tinubu to order the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the implementation of the controversial cybersecurity levy.

However, rising from its press conference on Tuesday in Kano State, the coalition in a statement jointly signed by its coordinator, Comrade Hamza Umar Saulawa, and Director of Research and Documentation, Comrade Bishir Dauda Sabuwar Unguwa Katsina, Director, wondered why ‘some minority sections’ of the society are against the levy, while also describing it as ‘hysterical, vicious, campaign’.

The coalition also alleged that it is obvious that the conversation is being manipulated by ‘minority vocal elites’ to give it the mischievous impression of punishing the masses, despite the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Shehu Umar Buba, clarifying everything that concerns the cyber security levy.

“In the face of growing cybercrimes in Nigeria with its attendant consequences on our nation,we find the ongoing hysterical vicious campaign against the Cybersecurity levy incongruence with the desire of many patriotic Nigerians to see that our hitherto country’s good image is restored.

“It is obvious that the conversation is being manipulated by the section of the minority vocal elites to look as if the levy is imposed to punish the masses. This is happening despite the clarification made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on National Security and Intelligence, Senator Shehu Umar Buba. We feel that this kind of debate in which many take an extreme end is not helpful at all.

“We urge all Nigerians to objectively and without any prejudice ,examine this landmark clause -Cybersecurity Levy in its entirety . They would surely see its great prospects to our country.

From the outset,it is important for Nigerians to note that cybercrime is not only undermining Nigeria’s economy,but also has continued to tarnish our image globally. Today innocent Nigerians all over the world are being unfairly treated with suspicion at Airports, embassies,motorparks,etc.

“Indeed it is so embarrassing that whenever there is a discussion about cybercrime anywhere,the first people who come to minds ,are Nigerians. Many innocent Nigerians are being embarrassed, humiliated and profiled ,because of the activities of cyber criminals . Many Nigerians have lost golden opportunities, because of this terrible phenomenon.

“Also, Innocent hardworking Nigerians have continued to lose their hard-earned fortune to cybercriminals. For instance,according to Nigerian Communication Commission, Nigeria annually loses $500 Million to cybercriminals.

“Another frightening trend is today ,many young people are joining the illicit cybercrime venture to make fast money.Some of these youth wrongly think that going to school is a scam.

“Now we have an opportunity to reverse this trend , unfortunately,there are some people who think imposing 0.5 per cent Levy on some companies and institutions that are listed in the second schedule of the Cybercrime Act 2024 is too much.But on the other hand, they are not talking of the social and economic loses of the cybercrime Nigeria incurs.

“Also it is surprising that the antagonists of the levy are not looking at the substantial benefits our country will gain as a result of this levy. Some of the benefits including improving funding for counterterrorism and violent extremism. Take for instance the Section 44 (5) of the CyberCrime Prohibition, Prevention,Etc Act 2015. It has specifically stated that “An amount not exceeding 40 per cent of the fund may be allocated for Programs relating to combating violent extremism”.

Taking into cognizance, the catastrophic impact of terrorism on our country,one can think that no saner person will oppose any counterterrorism Initiative especially on the premise of levy”

It then rued that armed banditry, kidnapping for ransom and farmers-herders clashes claimed the precious lives of Nigerians, while also adding that the current food insecurity the country is currently grappling with is as a result of terrorism and other insecurities.

“It is an irrefutable fact that armed banditry, kidnapping for ransom and farmer-herder clashes have claimed the precious lives of hundred thousands of Nigerians .Many have been displaced. Terrorism is partly responsible for the present hardship and economic downturn afflicting Nigeria as our farmers cannot go to their farms, pastoralists are losing their livestock, foreign investors are scared to come to our country.Terrorism is exacerbating poverty, ignorance and general underdevelopment. To fight terrorism and other violent conflicts ravaging the country,you need adequate fund.

“This money will not come from the heaven. It will be generated from multiple sources, including through the imposition of Therefore , the 40 per cent that will be deducted from the fund will greatly help in the fight against terrorism and other violent crimes such as kidnapping and armed banditry that suffocate our country.Therefore,we haven’t seeing anything odd in this levy so long it will be judiciously used as prescribed in the Act. And we have full confidence in the sincerity of purpose of the present Bola Tinubu led administration.

“It is even more preposterous that some of the critics faulted the domicile of the fund under the office of the National Security Adviser. It should be noted that for additional accountability layer, the CyberCrime Act mandates the Auditor General of the federation to audit the national Cybersecurity fund ,and develop guidelines for its transparent compliance with financial standards.

“In addition, Nigerians know that the present N.S.A. is a patriotic and reliable citizen.His records as former chairman of EFCC are there in the public to verify.And today we are all living witnesses to the proactive steps he has been taken that continue to yield desired results since his assumption to office as N.S.A. So, we assure Nigerians that they have nothing to fear. Their levy is safe,and it will be utilized judiciously”.