" ITREALMS: NiRA in comatose, late Prof. Ajayi remains .ng PoC

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

NiRA in comatose, late Prof. Ajayi remains .ng PoC

Remmy Nweke

THE Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NiRA) may have gone comatose, just as the late Director-General (DG) of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Gabriel Olalere Ajayi, remained the nation’s administrative Point-of-Contact (PoC), almost two years after his demise.

The PoC is supposedly in charge of the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng. Prof. Ajayi died on December 16, 2004 in Abuja.

While NiRA was set up to manage the ccTLD as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), it has gone into oblivion as nothing has been heard of it since it was set up on June 23, 2005 in Lagos.

ccTLD is the proverbial nation’s flag in the cyberspace, which means that any Internet address registered under it; be it for electronic mail (e-mail) or website has to end with .ng such as .uk is for United Kingdom and .za for South Africa.

NiRA came into being following the resolution passed by the Internet community at the Muson Centre Onikan-Lagos, last year, at the instance of NITDA.

It could be recalled that on the rise of controversies surrounding the local hosting of .ng and subsequent forced redelegation of the PoC by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG), from Mrs Ibukun Odusote, who was the pioneer PoC, Nigeria has about 567 sub-domains registered on .ng.

However, the incumbent PoC then, Mrs. Odusote with the support of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) rejected forced redelegation. In addition, petitions and counter petitions were sent to the Presidency and even the global administrators of the Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) based in the United States (US).

Thus attracting an outcry and confusion leading to the personal intervention of the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who directed that PoC be handed over to NITDA on behalf of the government pending a time when a body is set up to takeover.

According to administrative arm of ICANN, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the bearer of admin PoC, must be a collective resolve of the Internet community stakeholders in a given state or society.

Investigations by our correspondent indicated that close to two years of his death, precisely 18 months as at the time of going to the press, late Prof. Ajayi is yet to be replaced as the nation’s PoC.

It was gathered also that it’s a decision by some ‘stakeholders’ after the conclusion of their meeting on the formation of NiRA to allow the change to be made once and for all.

Particularly, this ‘stakeholders’ meeting was online and based on the instance of the IANA last June, meaning that instead of using the current NITDA Director-General, Prof. Cleopas Officer Angaye to replace late Prof. Ajayi as PoC, the status-quo should remain.

This was further arrived at with the hope of registering NiRA soon to take over, as said by some industry observers.

But one year and two months later, NiRA after its debut as the chosen name for alternative replacement, there is no known meeting conveyed afterwards with respect to its being registered as an NGO.

Confirming the comatose state of NiRA, Corporate Affairs Manager at NITDA, Mr. Inye Kem Abonta, lamented that stakeholders have failed short of expectation by not living up to the resolutions passed at the naming of NiRA.

He does not see reason why Prof. Angaye should not be used to replace late DG as the PoC, pending when NiRA is ready. He blamed ‘stakeholders’ for taking the decision on the ‘statusquo’.

Also, sources close to IANA informed our correspondent that changing the details on PoC for .ng is not a difficult task once the Internet community in Nigeria agreed to a specific name.

Its current state, our sources said, would remain as long as stakeholders via NiRA remain undecided, just as our source decried the status as a condition of lack of trust among the so-called ‘stakeholders’.

Core implication of this undertone, our sources continued, is that the adaptation of .ng by entities and individuals in the country online would not only suffer great set back, but would remain appalling.

Efforts to get some key personalities among the 22 members of NiRA to comment proved abortive apart from NITDA for fear of victimisation.

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