National Census — and an Internet Census

Human and Digital Census

For the next few days, Nigerians are all involved in one project — the national census. By the end of the process, we should know exactly how many Nigerians live in Nigeria — 120 million? 150 million? Less? More? And as soon as that census exercise is over, another census (that will seek to consider how many Internet enthusiasts there are in Nigeria) will hold at the MUSON Center in Lagos. Just like the shame of not knowing how many of us there really are (to help effective planning), this digital census should help rid Nigeria of the shame that contention and slow-paced action around the .ng issue has brought. Listen to Financial Standard’s Chima Akwaja on the census — in his article titled, Stakeholders set to ratify Nigeria’s Internet body:

Stakeholders in the Internet community are set to ratify Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), the non-governmental organisation that would oversee the administration of the country code top level domain (ccTLD), Nigeria’s signature content on the internet. The first annual general meeting (AGM) would hold next week Tuesday in Lagos.

There are indications that the meeting would ratify the constitution of NIRA. The Internet body formed last year has been unable to get off the ground due largely to the inability of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), government’s information technology implementation arm to pursue the establishment of the executive body of the Nira.
Mr. Kem Abonta, public relations manager of Nitda said the meeting would hold unfailingly. He said the government is serious about “appointing a board of trustees (BoT) for the Internet body and the ratification of the constitution.” NITDA has been criticized for the inability of Nigeria to establish a huge Internet content on the web. Instead the country is being reckoned for online fraud.

Since 1996 when Nigeria first registered its domain name on the Internet, so far only about 800 websites have been registered to date with the .ng suffix. Last year March, Nitda hurriedly called a meeting after some Nigerians who took offence at its reluctance to establish a non-governmental organisation to run the affairs of .ng embarrassed it. This led to the formation of Nira. The second meeting slated for September last year could not hold due to lack of quorum, as it did not send the notice of the meeting on time to the stakeholders. This is the first meeting to be convened by Professor Cleopas Angaye, Nitda’s director general who succeeded Dr. Moses Ubaru, Nitda’s erstwhile acting director general.

The process of handing over .ng was halted following the death of professor Gabriel Ajayi, former director-general of Nitda in December 2004. President Olusegun Obasanjo had mandated Nitda to ensure that technical and administrative management aspect of .ng are handled by a non-governmental organization. Mr. Randy Bush, an American, is still handling the technical point of contact.

So, stand up to be eCounted. See you at MUSON Center on Tuesday, March 28 2006.

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