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FG’s Websites Inactive despite Gulping N20Bn

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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.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Business

Alleged Nigerian Hackers Steal from Shipping Firms

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Nigerian hackers, grouped as Gold Galleon, are menacing shipping firms and bleeding them of thousands of dollars.

 

Network security firm Secureworks has red-flagged the group, whose focus appears solely to be the maritime industry.

 

The group, according to a report by Maritime Executive, an online platform, uses basic email scams and publicly available hacking software to try to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting ship managers and service providers.

 

Secureworks said Gold Galleon is a group of about 20 individuals who work together to hack maritime firms all over the world using basic techniques.

 

They rent hacking tools for just a few dollars per month; they communicate via Skype; and they identify targets using online company directories and commercially-available contact lists.

 

While the criminal gang uses an online proxy service to disguise its location, several cues indicate that it is of Nigerian origin, Secureworks said.

 

The group communicates in Nigerian Pidgin, an English creole language, and it uses phrases associated with a Nigerian social organization called the “Buccaneeers Confraternity” for usernames and passwords.

 

Once the group has identified a new target, it sends a spearphishing email carefully tailored to the recipient. The email has an attachment containing malware, which deploys on the unsuspecting victim’s computer and logs his or her keystrokes, recording the username and password for the victim’s business email account.

 

Once the account is compromised, the group uses a software tool to collect all the email addresses with which that user has had an interaction, and it sets itself up to intercept business transactions between the user and his or her clients.

 

Many maritime firms use email to handle invoicing and payment details. When the Gold Galleon group sees payment details relayed on an invoice in a compromised email account, it intercepts the invoice, alters the account numbers to direct the money to its own “mule” bank account instead, and uses a similarly-worded email address to send the altered request on its way to the intended recipient.

 

Often, the buyer will not detect the change to the sender’s email address and the bank details, and will simply pay the fraudulent invoice.

 

In one case study, the group was able to steal email usernames and passwords for eight employees at a South Korean shipping firm, including the accountant’s account.

 

Gold Galleon members monitored the company’s financial transactions to gain familiarity with its billing cycles and clients.

 

Then, when the South Korean firm initiated a $50,000 “cash to master” transaction to deliver money to one of its vessels, a Gold Galleon hacker impersonated the recipient and asked for payment to be sent to a “subsidiary account for now” because of unspecified bank issues.

 

Secureworks was monitoring the exchange and notified the parties involved that they were being hacked, and it thwarted two subsequent attempts on the same firm – one for $234,000 and another for $325,000.

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HID Global Unveils e-ID Cards to Ease Movements in ECOWAS

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HID Global®, a worldwide leader in trusted identity solutions, has introduced an end-to-end solution for national e-ID cards that complies with the recommendations provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as all international standards for travel identity documents.

 

The solution gives ECOWAS nations greater options for launching e-ID programs that will enable their citizens to travel easily within this sub-region of Africa.

 

“HID offers government agencies in the ECOWAS region the choice to directly source cards or buy specific components to fulfill their e-ID Card programs,” said Manuel Deloche, Vice President Product Marketing, Citizen ID Solutions with HID Global.

 

“We provide a one-stop shop for everything from polycarbonate inlays and cards to chips and a Common Criteria-certified chip operating system, all aligned with ECOWAS recommendations. HID Global can either support national governments directly or work hand-in-hand with regional partners to ensure a successful project.”

 

Per ECOWAS guidelines, the HID card and inlay options use polycarbonate materials, include an aluminum watermark and are compatible with inductive coupling dual-interface chip technology so there is no physical contact between the card’s module and antenna. HID cards and cards made using HID components have been fully tested against ISO24789 requirements for a minimum 10-year lifespan.

 

HID’s ECOWAS solutions offer the option of including the company’s Mirage™ level 1 security feature. Mirage™ is a 5-in-1 security feature including negative laser engraving, window protection, bi-color metallic effects, customizable design options and a window seal. The bundles also include a Common Criteria-certified SOMATM chip operating system supporting ICAO national e-ID applications, digital signatures, and “match-on-card” capabilities.

 

The ECOWAS national e-ID card initiative spans more than 500 million citizens from the nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.

 

Several countries have started their national e-ID implementations and others are expected to initiate programs soon. These programs are aimed at making travel more convenient for citizens while also promoting economic integration among ECOWAS member states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BetaSMS Unveils Apps to Boost Revenue for Small Business

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A Lagos-based mobile marketing company, BetaSMS has unveiled a set of industry-leading business-oriented applications – WasherMEN and iPrefect – to help the operators of small and medium scale enterprises in their drive for increased revenue generation.

The applications are designed to increase the productivity of business owners giving them more control, encourage lean operations, reduce overhead costs and generate more profit to keep them in business.

Ajibola Awojobi, Managing Director of BetaSMS, said: “WasherMEN was built after we noticed an increased number of Laundry Start-ups had become increasingly dependent on SMS to notify customers for pick-up of their clothes.

We decided to create more value for such by building the application to ensure smooth running of their businesses.”

On iPerfect, Adebimpe Ayoola, Head, Communications, BetaSMS, said: “We decided to create this solution because of the incessant complaints of missing students’ files and records as well as difficulty in tracking students’ performances and behaviour.

This solution will help keep records for various institutions, simplify the enquiry processes and help instil discipline amongst students.”

WasherMEN is laundry management software designed with the one-man business model in mind but has the capacity to handle both commercial and industrial laundry activities.

iPrefect, on the other hand, is a school automation software built for every educational institute – colleges, universities, training schools- and aims to improve management’s understanding and interaction with students all through their duration in the school while reducing the workforce needed to achieve same. The solution will enable education institutions to perform all activities in the cloud.

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