Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Investigation - FG's Websites Inactive After Gulping Billions

Despite spending billions of naira on information technology last year, most Federal ministries and agencies lack active websites, Daily Trust investigations have shown.

At least three key ministries--Petroleum, Defence and Agriculture--have no online presence at all, while most of the ministries that have websites rarely update them.

The Ministry of Power's website is among those displaying outdated information, including still having Prof. Barth Nnaji as the minister even though he left office since August.

An analysis of the 2012 budget show that N27.7 billion has been spent by Federal ministries and agencies on information technology services and consultancy.

The budget breakdown show 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 and purchase of computers.

But in spite of the spending, processes of information dissemination by government ministries remain antiquated and slow.

A Daily Trust reporter visited the websites of government ministries and agencies over the past one month, and found that only a few of these display up-to-date information.

Most are rarely updated, have blank pages or contain links that lead to no pages at all.

'Nnaji still power minister'

The website of the Ministry of Power is among those with outdated information. A click on the 'Minister's Office' link last night took us to a page showing Professor Barth Nnaji as the minister even though he left office five months ago.

Links to information on the minister of state and the permanent secretary took us to blank pages.

The Niger Delta Affairs ministry website is no different, as it still shows Hajiya Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi as minister of state even though she swapped positions with former minister of state for power Darius Dickson Ishaku in October last year.

Also, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Kigo, who was removed as permanent secretary because of his alleged involvement in the police pension scam and replaced by Alhaji Muhammed Bashar in the Niger Delta ministry, was still on the website as permanent secretary last night.

Most other pages on the Niger Delta ministry website are blank with "no record on display" written.

On the website of the Nigeria Immigration Service, erstwhile Comptroller General Rose Chinyere Uzoma, who was removed two weeks ago, is still shown as comptroller general.

The Immigration website was last updated two years ago, with the news of Uzoma's appointment as comptroller general in August 2010 among the last updates.

The National Assembly Service Commission website still has the late Ahmed Aliyu Dogon Daji-led board years after its dissolution. The page was last updated about three years ago.

The 'Management' of the National Assembly webpage was also empty when this reporter visited at the weekend, and most other links had outdated information on display.

The National Assembly website is poorly designed and most of the pictures of the lawmakers are of poor quality.

The Justice ministry webpage was last updated in November 2011.

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, and foreign policy issues.

The Nigeria Police Force has an active website but with very scant information. When this reporter clicked on the link of "wanted person" it was found to be blank even though the police have lots of wanted persons still on the run. The website does not contain the recently launched Code of Conduct.

'N19m for Agric ministry website'

Many government ministries and agencies have no online presence at all, including the all-important ministries of Petroleum, Defense and Agriculture, as well as the State Security Service and office of the National Security Adviser.

An official at the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed to Daily Trust last night that the ministry has no website but that N19 million has been voted to create one.

A Defence ministry official also confirmed that his ministry is not on the Internet, while an official of the Petroleum ministry did not reply to a text message by our reporter last night asking why the ministry has no website.

The website of the Trade and Investment ministry is not regularly updated, and links to investments opportunities, incentives and parastatals lead to blank pages. The Nigerian Human Rights Commission has an active website but pages for resources, program, and press releases were blank when this reporter visited.

The Aviation ministry website is being updated but with most of the pages blank.

The active few

Among the regularly updated websites are those of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Budget Office of the Federation, Nigeria Meteorological Agency, Nigerian Army, Federal Civil Service Commission, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Communications Commission, National Orientation Agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Also in this category are the websites of the ministries of Information, Communication Technology, Works and Interior.

The billions for ICT

Some of the big spenders on computer software acquisition and other IT related services according to 2012 budget are National Identity Management Commission with N9 billion, Lands ministry N1.5 billion, Transport ministry N1.1 billion, Nigerian Railway Corporation N966 million, Niger Delta ministry N956 million, State House N826 million, Police Commands and Formations N617 million, Foreign Affairs ministry N565.4 million and Nigerian Intelligence Agency N530 million.

These are followed by the Public Complaints Commission N484.9 million, Secretary to Government of the Federation N444.9 million, Works ministry N396.9 million, Petroleum ministry N341 million, Finance ministry N433.6 million, Communication Technology ministry N327 million and Agriculture ministry N305 million.

National Pension Commission spent N274.4 million, Federal Civil Service Commission N270.3 million, office of the Head of Service N228.5 million, office of the Vice President N226.6 million, Bureau for Public Procurement N221.6 million, Interior ministry N212.2 million, Petroleum Equalization Fund N203 million and National Population Commission N201.5 million.

Security agencies also spent hundreds of millions on IT related services as follows: Army N503 million, Navy N127.3 million, Air Force N486, Nigerian Defence Academy N53.1 million, National Defence College N48.1 million, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji N53.2million, Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Lagos N28.5 million, Defence Intelligence Agency N30.1 million, Defence Intelligence School N10 million, Defence Missions N374.1 million and Military Pensions Board N60.9 million.

Information ministry spent N197.8 million, Police Affairs ministry N190.2 million, Education ministry N183.4 million, National Planning Commission N 180.2 million, Code of Conduct Bureau N175 million, Budget Office of the Federation N174.6 million, Accountant General of the Federation N169.6 million, Department of Petroleum Resources N166.8 million, Voice of Nigeria N163.5 million, Office of the Surveyor General N154 million, Labour ministry N135million, NAPEP N133.3 million, EFCC N127.2 million, Power ministry N127.6 million, Science and Technology ministry N123.8 million, Centre for Management Development N120.5million.

The budget details show that Trade and Investments ministry spent N117.6million, Water Resources affairs N110 million, Women Affairs ministry N107.3million, RMAFC N99.9 million, National Bureau of Statistics N99.4 milliion, Health ministry 98.4 million, ICPC N97.2 million, National Lottery Trust Fund N96 million, Mines and Steel ministry N91.5 million, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board N83 million, Defence ministry N80million, the Auditor General's office N79 million, National Inland Waterways Authority N75 million, Justice ministry N74 million, Federal Roads Safety Corps N72.8 million, and National Salaries and Wages Commission N72.8 million.

Borders Communities Development Agency spent N44 million, NYSC N44.5 million, National Productivity Centre N38 million, special duties N35 million, Youths Affairs ministry N21.8 million, NIPSS, Kuru N22 million, NEPAD N21.5million, Nigerian Law Reform Commission N16.6 million, NEITI N16 million, Federal School of Survey, Oyo N15 million, Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies N11 million, Industrial Arbitration Panel N11 million and Nigerian Copyright Commission N5.3 million.

Others are Federal Character Commission N80.2 million, Environment N72.5 million, National Primary Health Care Development Agency N50 million, Debt Management Office N43.5 million, Infrastructural Concessionary and Regulatory Commission N39.3 million, Investments and Securities Tribunal N37.3 million, Culture ministry N34 million, Code of Conduct Tribunal N24.4 million, Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution N16.7 million, Fiscal Responsibility Commission N15 million, National Human Rights Commission N8 million and Aviation ministry N4 million.

Paramilitary agencies also spent huge sums on the IT services. The Nigerian Prison Service spent N194.3 million, Nigerian Immigration Service N154.6 million, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps N159.7 million, and Civil Defence, Immigration and Prison Board N27.6million.

'Embarrassing'

A social commentator, Mr Paul Omoruyi, recently narrated his experience in an online medium when he visited the Foreign Affairs ministry website for an official reaction to the United States' report predicting Nigeria's collapse in 2030.

"I navigated through the MFA site several times over several days and found absolutely nothing referring to those reports. What took me aback most was what I noticed on the site that I was not looking for," he said.

"The MFA site actually has a 'Travel Advisory' page. But guess what? That page does not have any content. It simply states 'coming soon.' I went to the 'Foreign Policy Issues' page, same thing "coming soon.' Under the 'Trade & Investment' page, there is no exciting content that I think will spur the interest of potential investors," he added.

"To me, the content of the MFA site is just too amateurish for the purported 'Giant of Africa' and for a ministry that gets billions of naira from federal budget."

Omoruyi said, "I visited Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs site to see what they published in there. I was shocked. The site was robust with detailed information about their bilateral diplomacy relation with all the continents of the world. Well documented foreign policies and even a historical perspective of how their policies and diplomacy have evolved over the years."

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