For several weeks running, the web portal has been in a bad shape with no information other than the picture of President Goodluck Jonathan clad in his traditional Ijaw attire, smiling and waving at the supposed guests who get disappointed after visiting the blank website.
A mail sent to the e-mail address, seeking enquiry and clarifications on the development, was also not replied as at the time of filing this report.
The poor African countries, including Zimbabwe, Republic of Congo, Burundi, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, own and maintain functional websites and use them for the propagation of business and investment opportunities, relationships with various economic and political organisations as well as development partners from different parts of the world.
Even South Sudan, which is the newest nation on the continent, takes the issue of online presence seriously. The Government of South Sudan, under President Salva Kiir Mayardit, updates the site frequently with its activities. The last of such was the country’s plans to export oil through Djibouti via Ethiopia.
However, one wonders why presidential advisers and assistants own and maintain websites with adequate social media plug-ins and good visual resolution while the nation’s website, which is supposed to serve as a gateway to the rest of the world and a one-stop site for every information about Nigeria, its people and culture, is left unattended to.
But there is a twist to this! A Google search, by our correspondent, of the name of the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, whose ministry is saddled with the responsibility of managing the website, shows that he might not even own a website as none could be attributable to him.
A digital media consultant, Segun Akiode, blamed the poor outlook of the website of the Federal Government on the negligence by the Federal Ministry of Information, saddled with the responsibility of managing it.
He adds, “This development tells visitors who log on to this website that we still have a long way to go when it comes to finding useful information about Nigeria as a country and this is as a result of simple negligence and lack of priority. It also shows that Nigeria pays lip service to all things digital.
“I know many would argue that out of the many issues Nigeria is faced with, would a functional country website make any meaningful difference? But, honestly it doesn’t cost Nigeria anything to get it functional; we have the requisite human resources to deploy to do so.
“There are many advantages in making this website fully functional. One key advantage is that anyone, world over, can simply learn all they need to learn about Nigeria – our country history, important dates, government history, statistics – on this single portal by a simple click of a mouse.”
A digital media consultant and Adjunct Faculty, School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Dr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo, says the non-functionality of the website “de-markets and de-brands the nation,” adding that the state of “nigeria.gov.ng” on the cyber space, “reinforces a negative image for the government.”
Uvie-Emegbo laments that the development was worrisome as the country should, at the moment, be looking at launching mobile apps and not battling with a non-functional web portal.
He says, “There is nothing positive about not having a functional website. It reinforces a negative image for the government. Having a good functional website like so many countries of the world does, is definitely not a fad. Any government that is keen on attracting trade and investment needs to have a one stop web portal that would act as a single point of entry into its government at all levels.
“A website is a strategic communication and engagement tool. It is as important as the other media channels of the government such as the Nigerian Television Authority, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.”
He adds that a robust framework should be put in place to proactively develop, integrate and manage a social and mobile media strategy into the national web portal project.
Head of Operations, GNT Nigeria, an Information Technology training institute, Olorunfemi Lawore, warns that with the way the website is left dormant, a lot of hoax websites could be created to trick people into believing that they are official portals of the country.
“Other websites could be hosted by hackers to act as the official website of the country. People who do not know the real website, because it isn’t operational may fall victims of such hoaxes and scams. Such fraudulent websites hosted to trick people, could also be used to spread viruses and worms and this could lead to the blacklisting of the website,” he warns.
Also, Chief Executive Officer, Kings Elite Media, Celestine Mmadueke, says the state of the website shows that the country cares less about its online reputation.
“We’re more concerned about politics than our online reputation. Through a functional website, the country leadership will be able to inform those living within and outside the country the achievements of the administration and solicit for foreign investment. The country will also have the opportunity to project her culture and people to the outside world,” he explains.
Efforts to speak with the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, proved abortive as calls placed to his telephone rang out. A text message sent to his phone was also not replied as at the time of filing this report.
Original article appeared here.