Many federal ministries and agencies (MDAs) lack active websites despite spending billions of naira on information technology last year.
Daily Trust investigations show that two key agencies under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology are 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.
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.
Even at that, of the six sub-menus under it, only the one with the DG’s profile was active. All the remaining ones were blank.
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.
The website of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) is also displaying outdated and wrong information.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.
Most of the other ministries that have websites rarely update them.
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.
He spoke at an event themed: “Using ICT within the Public Service in the Ease of Doing Business to Enhance Public Access to Information.”
Arabi said there is a huge gap and constraints to doing business in Nigeria as many institutions of government have no avenue to disseminate needed information by business operators.
“This shortcoming has not only created a huge gap and constraint to doing business in Nigeria but is also responsible for the country being ranked number 169 out of the 190 economies in the world.
´In line with global best practices, institutional websites provide the means through which relevant information for starting business process could be obtained,” he said.
“It is also requisite where information concerning the activities of government organisation could easily be accessed. It is noteworthy to inform you that the federal government has adopted the scorecard in a letter dated 10 December 2017 which would serve as peer review mechanism among the MDAs to boost compliance to standards for government website and improve operationalization of the Executive Order E001 on Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria,” he said
An analysis of the 2017 budget shows that N20 billion has been spent by federal ministries and agencies on information technology services and consultancy.
The budget breakdown shows that the funds were meant for setting up data banks, e-governance, simplifying information dissemination, as well as digitizing work in the agencies.
The allocations were listed under sub-headings for internet access charges, information technology consulting, satellite broadcasting access charges, computer software acquisition, information technology training, reforms communication, and purchase of computers.
Despite these spending, processes of information dissemination by government ministries remain antiquated and slow.
Several visits to the websites of these agencies in the past weeks revealed that only a few of them display up-to-date information.
Most are rarely updated, have blank pages or contain links that lead to no pages at all.
Also, the Foreign Affairs ministry website is not being updated as most of the pages were blank with “coming soon” displayed, including pages on travel advisory, trade, and investment.
The page designated “Nigerian missions oversees” was blank. And the website was last updated on December 7, 2017. The ministry’s links to business, government, visiting, and employment were all not active as of last night.
The Nigeria Police Force has an active website but with very scant information. When this reporter clicked on the link of “wanted persons” it was found to be blank even though the police have lots of wanted persons still on the run.
Among the agencies with regularly updated websites are those of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Budget Office of the Federation, Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
Others in this category are the websites of the ministries of Information and Culture, Communication Technology, Power, Works, and Housing, among others.
Some of the big spenders on computer software acquisition and other IT related services according to 2017 budget are power, works and housing N5.5bn, DSS N1.04bn, communications N1.05bn, OSGF N1.04bn, National Security Adviser N1.04bn, and Code of Conduct Bureau N1.01bn.
Salaries and wages commission spent N917m, National Population Commission N741m, National Immigration Service N600m, Voice of Nigeria (VON) N663m, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) N355m, Transports N357m, Finance N344m, Foreign N276m, Defence N281m, Interior N252m, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) N204m, and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) N288m.
Others include Debt Management Office N130m, Information and Culture N126m, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN)N122m, Trade and Investment N115m, Environment N147m, Education N111m, Economic Planning N169m, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) N232m, ICPC N145m, Petroleum N170m, and Mining N245m.
Board of Prisons, Immigration and Civil Defence spent N163m, Fiscal Responsibility Commission N85m, Nuclear Regulatory Agency N100m, Sports and youths N68m, Water Resources N40m, Federal Character Commission N95m, State House N181m, among others.