Earmarking N4.8bn earmarked to monitor WhatsApp, Thuraya is misplaced priority – Onuesoke

A CHIEFTAIN of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Sunny Onuesoke, says the N4.8 billion earmarked by the Federal Government for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to monitor WhatsApp , an encrypted messaging application and Thuraya, a satellite telephone is a misplaced priority.

It will be recalled that the National Assembly had approved the sum of N982 billion as the supplementary budget for 2021 in which the sum of N4.8bn was equally set aside for National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to monitor WhatsApp , an encrypted messaging application and Thuraya, a satellite telephone.

He was speaking in Warri, Delta State, while fielding questions from journalists.

The party Chieftain described the idea  as waste of tax payers money at a time Nigerians are hungry and can hardly feed once per day while the money is voted just to monitor people’s conversations.

He said “Nigeria being a democratic and not a police state all this money that is being wasted should have been directed to other areas that needed urgent attention like health, roads, rail, education and transportation among others for the interest of the masses.

“Here in Nigeria we can’t even feed ourselves, no good road, no drinking water, no electricity, and no government empowerment. Yet government priority is to vote such huge amount to monitor WhatsApp and telephone,” he lamented.

Wondering how it will be possible to monitor WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging application and Thuraya, a satellite telephone, the PDP Chieftain argued that America, Israel, United Kingdom and other developed countries are yet to break into WhatsApp, but Nigeria already has a budget, stressing that it is only fools would believe it.

According to him, “The FBI can’t access or monitor your WhatsApp except with court orders and permission from owners of the apps. Even if they were honest, it would be impossible to monitor 200+ million people and adding VPNs or proxies to that list would make it more complicated.

“What Government should understand is that WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption and that any attempt by ‘man-in-the-middle’ (MitM) to attack it is virtually impossible? Nigerian government lacks the resources, skills and knowledge to spy on WhatsApp. I think what the Government is planning of doing as in Muslim, Arab and Despotic countries is to block WhatsApp altogether. Then again, WhatsApp users could always use VPN to evade the monitoring.”

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