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WHAT NIGERIA SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THE U.S INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY’S ANNUAL THREAT ASSESSMENT OF 2023

Every year, in response to the U.S.’ Intelligence Authorization Act, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) compiles a detailed report about worldwide threats to their country’s national security. The 2023 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community came out, and I read through it to see if there was anything interesting as it pertains to Mother Africa, specifically Nigeria. Long story short, Nigeria was not mentioned, but West Africa was mentioned in a short paragraph on page 38 of 39, where they referenced regions and countries that will likely struggle with democracy and governance. It said regarding West Africa: “Across the continent, governments will face difficulties in meeting public demands amid food shortages, commodity price spikes, declining socioeconomic conditions, and the stresses of extreme weather events and insecurity. In addition, the prevalence of ageing autocrats, disruptions to fragile ethnic power balances, and protracted transitions from post-coup military regimes to civilian rule are likely to undermine prospects for stable governance in more than a dozen countries. In West Africa, a volatile mixture of democratic backsliding, states’ inability to provide security, and terrorist expansion will continue to threaten the region’s stability. The West African public has become disillusioned with how elected leaders have governed, particularly their failure to adhere to democratic governance norms and manipulation of institutions, which could lead to increased protests absent government reforms.“ DEMOCRACY IN JEOPARDY From that little excerpt, the I.C was already predicting that democratic rule in West Africa is going to be a challenge (cue in Nigeria). The inability to elect effective leaders due to institutional repression, coupled with ongoing insecurity and deteriorating socio-economic conditions, will likely lead to increased protests in the region, further threatening democratic governance fairly and justly. This is apt when you consider the recently concluded elections in Nigeria, which have left much of the populace disillusioned. INCREASE IN MILITARY CONFLICT There’s going to be an increasing military ramp up across the world. More countries will continue to invest in their militaries, which could increase the risk of conflict escalation. This is further exacerbated by the current war, coupled with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased poverty, hindered economic growth, and widened inequality, raising the conditions that are ripe for domestic unrest, insurgencies, democratic backsliding, and authoritarianism. CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT Climate change is going to pose a global threat that is going to keep affecting Africa through increased resource constraints, which are projected to grow, as well as an increased risk of conflict that will occur with the migration of people. It is going to affect the global economy, which will equally impact the continent. According to the report, “droughts in 2022 decreased shipping capacity and energy generation in China, Europe, and the United States, and insured losses from [weather] catastrophes have increased by 250 percent during the past 30 years”. Bottom line: We need to get our emergency and disaster management acts together. Scientific projections are depicting droughts and flooding in the coming year. We will need to ensure we have the right emergency response frameworks and resources to tackle this. CYBER THREAT: SURVEILLANCE AND SPYWARE Advanced intelligence and cybertools are now commercially available for more governments to use, including repressive ones. According to the report, “the commercial spyware industry—which makes tools that allow users to hack digital devices such as mobile telephones to surveil users—grew rapidly during the past decade and is now estimated to be worth $12 billion“. I always talk about the importance of investing in defense manufacturing capabilities so that our minds can develop these tools in-country, minimize importation, and instead export these capabilities and grow the economy. Well, cyber intelligence tools are a $12 billion industry. Africa needs to be developing some of these tools as well and getting in on the market. But I digress. These spyware tools aid mass technical surveillance, censorship, and spyware, which governments could use towards targeting oppositions and digital repression. In other words, the next time a digitally organized EndSARs like protest is about to spring up, the government will likely have greater capacity to squash it in cyberspace before it gains physical traction. In addition, these tools can also assist with influence operations aimed at shaping how the outside world views the government. This means an active genocide could be going on in a country, but people on the outside will only see videos of cute cats and puppies. These cyber tools could also be used in offensive capacities aimed at controlling the governance of another nation by creating social and political upheavals in some other countries to sway voters perceptions, perspectives, and preferences, which ultimately will allow them to elect officials that will shift policies in favour of the attacking government. CYBERTHREAT: RANSOMWARE Transnational ransomware attackers are improving their capabilities and will continue to execute high-impact ransomware attacks aimed at disrupting critical services and exposing sensitive data for the purpose of extorting funds. Governments worldwide are targets. The attacks are only going to get more sophisticated and persistent. Our cyber detection and response capabilities must be enhanced and continually upgraded as a matter of national security. TERRORISM ISIS West Africa will continue to pose a threat in the region. AQIM will continue to extort weak border security in west Africa, expand territorial control, and challenge local security forces. Terror groups keep using their Telegram network of channels, ‘Terrorgram’, to circumvent content moderation. CHINA IS NOT PLAYING The report was clear in its insinuation that China is no joke, and according to the U.S. Intelligence Community, it currently represents the biggest threat to the U.S. Reading through the document, you can quickly see why. China is making rapid gains on all fronts and across all sectors. INCREASING CHINESE MILITARY MIGHT Militarily, the PLA Navy and Air Force are already the largest in the region and continue to field advanced platforms rapidly. The I.C agreed that “the PLA Rocket Force’s (PLARF) short-, medium-, and intermediate-range conventional systems probably already can hold U.S.

CURATED OSINT

Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19

PRESS RELEASEODNI News Release No. 11-20April 30, 2020 The Office of the Director of National Intelligence today issued the following Intelligence Community (IC) statement: “The entire Intelligence Community has been consistently providing critical support to U.S. policymakers and those responding to the COVID-19 virus, which originated in China. The Intelligence Community also concurs with the…

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