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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

NiRA replaces late Ajayi, 3yrs after

Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last weekend at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NiRA), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) set up to manage the ccTLD since June 23, 2005, has been mandated to replace the late professor as the nation’s Point-of-Contact (POC).

Champion Infotel recalls that till date, the late Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Prof. Gabriel Olalere Ajayi, is still the administrative referred to as POC for the nation’s Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name, .ng, over three years after his death.

Investigations by Champion Infotel revealed that late Prof. Ajayi’s name is conspicuous in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) database on .ng, which was created on March 15, 1995 and last updated on September 22, 2005, that is, about seven months after the demise of the late DG on December 16, 2004 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

The PoC is the individual or organisation supposedly in charge of the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng administration.

Although NITDA remained the sponsoring organisation on behalf of the federal government and the technical contact person is still Mr. Randy Bush, a United States-based Internet expert, late Prof. Ajayi’s appearance on the IANA database as the POC is an affront on the nation and specifically NITDA for the inability to appropriately communicate with the IANA, the administrative arm of the global Internet coordinating agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The initial excuse given as gathered by our correspondent was that a decision taken by some ‘stakeholders’ after the conclusion of the meeting on the formation of NiRA allowed for the change to be made once and for all.

Particularly, this ‘stakeholders’ meeting was online and based on the instance of the IANA on June 2005; 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, pending the registration of NiRA to take over.

Unfortunately, it took some good months for this to be achieved due to bureaucratic bottlenecks as observed by some stakeholders.

Noteworthy is that NiRA has since first quarter of last year, 2007, be in possession of an issued certificate of incorporation of its trustees and dated February 9, 2007 by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Speaking to Champion Infotel exclusively on the MoU, NiRA President, Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, assured that before the end of this quarter, NiRA would take full control of .ng management including the replacement of late Prof. Ajayi as POC and Mr. Randy Bush as the technical contact person.

He explained that as outcome of the MoU endorsed with the Federal Government’s IT agency, NITDA is expected before this week runs out to detail a letter to the changes in the management of .ng to ICANN on behalf of government with a copy made available to NiRA.

According to him, NiRA is expected too to write ICANN based on government’s letter of authorisation, stating its readiness for the take over and management of .ng as specified in the guidelines with global best practices.

ICANN, he said, would in turn forward these letters to its administrative wing, IANA, to set up a committee for the verification and when this is certified, “An agreement would be signed between NITDA cum NiRA and IANA.”

This process, Mr. Kalu noted, would take up to three months to accomplish and to give time for due process to be followed.

He decried the use of individual names in registration of a national project like .ng, describing personalisation of the ccTLD as its major and basic challenge since inception.

He pointed out that with the MoU endorsed, lots of things would change, such as POC would be changed and technical contact to either the President of NiRA or administration department of NiRA, while the technical department of the association would take over the position of the technical contact respectively.

“Either the President or admin department of NiRA and technical department will be used this time and not a name,” he said.

Mr. Kalu further explained that President’s of NiRA could always come and go and there must be somebody in that position or even the administration department would at all times be there despite who is occupying the position.

This, he said, is what is obtainable in other countries of the world and not personalisation of issues and administration of the .ng as reflected in the current database, stressing that the present steps will boost the penetration of .ng among Nigerians both at home and abroad even as he urged the Internet community to embrace the .ng.

Champion Infotel recalls that for over 10 years, Nigeria recorded less than 600 registrations on the .ng after it was created in 1995 due to controversies, but as at December 2007, NiRA has achieved up to 3000 and is targeting 1m before the end of 2009.

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

According to IANA’s procedures concerning ccTLD database information in order to effect a change on ccTLD managers, a request must be made to IANA which is responsible for receiving and acting on requests by the designated ccTLD managers to change contact information about the ccTLD’s designated sponsoring organization, administrative contact, and technical contact.

This request, IANA said, should be made by filling-out the root-zone modification template and sending it to root-mgmt@iana.org.

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