Business Hilights
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9 months after NITDA’s assessment, websites of many MDAs not responsive, active

Indications have emerged that after the June 2017 general assessment of many websites of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on their functionality and responsiveness, many of them are now moribund and inactive.

Business Hilights recalls that in compliance to the Executive Order signed by the then Acting President, and now Vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, on the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment designed to facilitate the ease of doing business in Nigeria as it relates to the use of ICT, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) conducted assessment of the websites of MDAs.

In a statement signed by the Director General, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the agency said “The assessment revealed that most of the websites are not in conformity with published standards and guidelines for government websites”.

“Most of the websites do not have feedback and information necessary to facilitate ease of doing business. For instance, only 25% and 37% of the websites have reachable phone numbers and email addresses respectively. In addition, some of the websites do not have complete list of website links of the Agencies under their supervision and the content outdated.

“Furthermore, some Ministries either have no active websites or are not registered on .GOV.NG domain. Businesses and citizens expect more transparent, accessible, and responsive services from government agencies and it is essential that Federal Ministries take the lead in ensuring that information provided on their websites meets such expectations.

According to Pantami, some of the embarrassing discoveries on MDAs websites by NITDA include poor contact information are accurate and reachable and means of interaction such as online feedback are integrated; the content and the list of website links of the Agencies under their supervision are complete and up-to-date; and detailed requirements or conditions for service provision and electronic mode of communicating acceptance and rejection of applications as stated in the executive order are conspicuously published.

NITDA boss therefore warned government agencies at all levels (Federal, State and Local Government) are required to use the .GOV.NG domain in line with Nigerian content in ICT promotion. The .GOV.NG domain is Nigerian Government identity on the Internet.

However, close to nine months on, fresh report by Daily Trust Newspaper’s investigations revealed additional collapse in the expected rise in content development of MDAs websites pursuit to the June 2017 Executive Order.

The newspaper observed that many federal MDAs lack active websites despite spending billions of naira on information technology in the last year federal budget.

Beginning with two key agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, they are currently absent online.

One of them is the National Space Research Development Agency (NASDRA), which is responsible for Nigeria’s space programme and policy development of space science and technology.

The website of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) is also displaying outdated and wrong information. For instance, under ‘Special Advisers’ only two names were displayed even though there are dozens of them, as of last night.

The displayed information was also wrong. Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, was addressed on the SGF’s website as special adviser on ‘new media’ to the president.

Though N65 million was spent on the website last year, according to the SGF Boss Mustapha, the last news item posted on the website was in October last year.

Another key agency absent online is the National Board for Technology Incubation (NBTI). A part of its mandate is to synergise with other related agencies to commercialize Nigeria’s indigenous products in the areas of technology and business management.

Similarly, the website of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) is rarely updated. When Daily Trust reporter visited it last night, the former Director General of the agency, Prof Lucy Ogbadu, whose tenure ended about two months ago, was still displayed on the website, as the DG.

Even the link to the press release that announced the appointment of Mr Abayomi Oguntade as acting DG on January 28, 2018, was not found on the website.

Almost all the menus on the website were either not active or found, or outrightly blank. Of the 10 menus on the website, only that of the ‘Office of the DG’ was active.

Again, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development website is active only half way as most of the sections are blank.

President Muhammadu Buhari administration is giving priority to agriculture, but there is very scant information regarding that on the website when our reporter checked last night.

Though there was provision for agencies, research institutes and colleges in the website, only the link to agencies display the agencies under the ministry.

Even then only about three of the agencies have an active link that will take you to their websites. The hyperlink for research institutes and colleges was blank when Daily Trust visited last night.

The value chain sub-sectors were also not updated, apart from the names of the items displayed. The addresses of the ministry’s state offices were also not available. The last press release posted on the ministry’s website was dated January 26, 2018.

Whereas most of other ministries that have websites rarely update them and are not on Nigeria Domain name (.ng or .gov.ng), it would be recalled that only last week, the Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR) disclosed that over 70 percent of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) in Nigeria have no websites.

The agency said less than 25 percent of them have functional telephone numbers and e-mail. The acting Director General of the bureau, Mr Dasuki Arabi, said this during the first edition of BPSR Lunch Time Reform Seminar in Abuja.

Efforts to get official response to these observations from NITDA failed as at press time.