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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Unbelievable! FG’s website stale

NigeriaDirect located on www.nigeria.gov.ng is the official website of the federal government, just as the external service of Voice of Nigeria (VON), the website is the apparent gateway to accessing official information.

The thinking among stakeholders in the Nigerian project is that such a medium of communication will contain not only relevant, but current information about the country, her people and policies.

Relating these to the current efforts to rebrand Nigeria, it is expected that the functionality and efficiency of government would be exhibited on its official website to the extent that it will present itself as the dependable reference platform.

But all that is not to be going by what is currently on ground.

For eight long months, the official website of the federal government has gone stale considering that information contained there on were yet to be updated.

Investigations by ITRealms Online showed that majority of the 20 former ministers dropped last September by President Umaru Yar’Adua, are still in office, according to the official information gateway of the federal government, the NigeriaDirect, www.nigeria.gov.ng.

This is an indication that the official website has not been holistically updated for upward of eight months.

Created in 2005, at the wake of the campaign to rebrand the nation via the Heart of Africa by the Federal Ministry of Information and Communications, NigeriaDirect, the official website of the Federal Government of Nigeria, still has the Heart of Africa running instead of the ‘Nigeria, good people, great nation’ campaign, thereby misinforming the world and defeating its purpose.

A visit to the website by ITRealms Online, revealed that such former ministers as Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs. Grace Ekpiwhre, were yet to hand-over to her then Minister of State, Dr. Alhassan Bako Zaku, who is the incumbent minister.

Another instance of NigeriaDirect’s failure was to retain the immediate past Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar and his Minister of State, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe in office till date. Chief Charles C. Ugwu in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as well as his Minister of State, Mr. Ahmed Garba Bichi, are very much in office.

Equally, at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, is still in-charge, even as Minister of State remained Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong.

According to NigeriaDirect, the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mahmud Yayale Ahmed is still a Minister and his then Minister of State, Mrs. Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, is yet to be redeployed to Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The case is not different at the Ministry of Education where Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachuku, is yet to relinquish office to Dr. Sam Egwu as Minister, and Minister of State on education, Mr. Anthony Jerry Agada is yet to be sacked, while Aishatu Jibril Dukku retains her minister of state port folio, as revealed by NigeriaDirect.

However, in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Prof. Dora Nkem Akunyili and Alhaji Aliyu Ikra Bilbis were reflected correctly as the Minister and Minister of State respectively. Just as Mr. Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, also correctly retained his office in the Federal Ministry of Justice as minister, together with the Minister of Interior, retired Major General Godwin Abbe, while the former minister of state at the Interior Ministry, Hassan Alhaji Haruna is yet to vacate his position.

The former Information Minister, Mr. John Odey seems to be in the right position, which is Environment ministry, even as the Minister of Finance is still Dr.
Shamsuddeen Usman, who has since gone to Planning Commission, rather than Dr Mansur Muktar, as Minister, though Aderemi W. Babalola, retains his position as minister of state at the official FG’s website.

Nevertheless, Chief Ojo Maduekwe is still in-charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whereas Tijjani Yahaya Kaura and Amb. Bagudu M. Hirse are the Minister of states 1 and 2 respectively.

Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal, currently managing the Ministry of Works & Housing has not been redeployed from the Ministry of Health, where he was supervising until the last shuffling by President Yar ‘Adua in December.

As at the time of filing this report, NigeriaDirect still maintained 19 ministries that existed during the Olusegun Obasanjo’s era, against the expanded 28 ministries by Yar’Adua since he took over office in May 2007.

This expansion is yet to reflect in the NigeriaDirect, the official online voice of the federal government.

Although NigeriaDirect was quick to affect some changes immediately after the shuffling in government was announced on Wednesday, December 17, 2008, including that of the Minister of Information and Communication, Prof. Dora Akunyili and her minister of state, among some ministers, ITRealms Online reliably gathered that those whose offices were updated were mainly the outspoken members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), thus revered.

Additionally, it was learnt that the ministry in-charge, which is the Information Ministry, may be having an issue with the website developer – contractor - warranting the irregular up dates; which from all intents and purposes negate the current rebranding drive by the government being championed by Prof. Akunyili.

Above all, industry observers called on Akunyili and her ministry to refocus the official website of the government in all aspects; be it ministerial and presidential as most of the information are currently outdated and are mostly sought after by foreign researchers and media practitioners, which cannot impact any change with the obsolete content as contained currently.

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