PIN aims to redirect the online efforts of Nigeria's youths to productive pursuits

By Kokomu Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Global lender the World Bank, Nigeria arm of US technology giant Microsoft and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) a non-governmental organisation, have urged a crackdown on cybercrimes in Nigeria, lamenting that the crime has compounded the country’s image problem.

Cybercrimes, known in local parlance as Yahoo-Yahoo, have become common among the country’s youths, who are sometimes successful in their efforts and are seen flaunting their money. An advanced form of Yahoo-Yahoo, allegedly involving the additional deployment of African occult powers in scams, is known as Yahoo Plus.

Worried by this development, the three organisations are collaborating to combat cybercrime by youths They have also called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the passage of the Cybercrime Bill that has been gathering dust on the shelf of the legislators.

Speaking at a forum at Microsoft Nigeria’s Lagos office, Dele Oladokun, communications associate at the World Bank, said the youth involved in cybercrimes are brilliant, but are just misapplying their knowledge.

He noted that the prevalence of cybercrimes in the country had negatively impacted on the image and perception of the country in the international community.

He said the World Bank was getting involved in the campaign to rid the country of cybercriminals partly because it believed youths were involved. He added that the focus of the bank this year, through its civil society fund, is youth empowerment. In addition, he said the bank was interested in putting “Nigeria rightly on the world map.”

Also commenting on the cybercrime problem, Shina Oyetosho, Developer and Platform Evangelism Lead, Microsoft Anglophone West Africa, said cybercrimes lead to loss of money, time and reputation.

He described this development as unhealthy, noting that those responsible were the youth, who would take the reigns  of administering the country in the future.

He also spoke about cyber bullying, which, although not widespread in the country, had nonetheless led to some suicides.

Gbenga Sesan, executive director of PIN, said the time had come for the National Assembly to pass the Cybercrime Bill which he said would hopefully address the issues concerning those involved in cybercrimes in the country.

According to him, the enactment of the law will take care of those cloning banks' websites, government institutions and hacking into strategic facilities of government and corporate organisations. He said hackers are intelligent people whose intelligence could be harnessed and channeled into more productive ventures.

He said the nation's sole reliance on crude oil was not good enough especially now that the international price of crude oil was declining. He opined that the technology sector, if properly funded and the appropriate legislations put in place, could well replace the oil and gas sector as the cash cow of the nation.

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