The Federal Government has order approved the National Policy on the Government, Second Level Domain aimed at safeguarding official communications using government top-level domains, effectively banning the use of private emails like, yahoo.com; hotmail.com or gmail.com for official communications by officials.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, issued the order on Wednesday during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja presided over by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
According to him, the development means the MDAs and federal public institutions are to migrate from generic domain in their websites and their emails to the government’s second-level domain under government top-level domain.
“This policy has been approved, and it focuses more on mandating federal public institutions, ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs) and all institutions as long as they are for government; they should migrate from using generic domains in their websites and their emails to our second-level domain under government top-level domain,” he said.
“For example, you will discover today, some government institutions will engage in official communications using private email: yahoo.com hotmail.com gmail.com. And it is an official communication and someone may retire or will complete his tenure or the tenure can be terminated, and he will go with the same email. And in that email, there are many official documents.”
This, the minister said, will no longer be tolerated, explaining that the official domain must be dot government dot ng. Pantami noted the move will project the national identity, promote national security, boost Nigeria’s global ranking, fight poverty, encourage transparency and boost public confidence.
“So, this will not be tolerated by the government anymore. Any official communications must be using an official email and that email should not be a generic one, it must be ‘.gov.ng.’ What is most important is ‘.ng’ that is our national identity,” the minister added.
“There are many categories of the second-level domain, some are for military, you will see like mil.ng mil is a short form of military. ng for Nigeria. You can see .gov.ng — Gov for government and ng for Nigeria.
“So, there are categories of the second-level domain, while our country top-level domain.ng must be there in our websites so that whoever gets access will know that this website is from Nigeria, while for email, it must reflect the official name.”
Pantami said benefits of the new policy would include the protection of the nation’s cyberspace as well as safeguarding national identity.
“Furthermore, there are so many benefits of doing that. Number one, our national security. Websites are being created in other countries without domain name and some claim to be from Nigeria, this will go a long way in compromising our cyberspace, which cannot be ignored.
“Two, national identity. Our national identity is key; any website from Nigeria, particularly for government must have dot.ng. From anywhere you will know that this is a Nigerian website.
“And it will go a long way in promoting and improving our global ranking when it comes to human development, when it comes to fighting poverty and many more.
“If website doesn’t have this, when it comes to assessment, many international organisations doing this assessment would not be able to get the correct websites of Nigerian institutions. And this will definitely affect our global ranking. It is because of this. Our national identity is important.
“Number three, global recognition. It will give us a global recognition, because in the assessment, they will count and discover how many institutions are from Nigeria, what have they been doing, what is their performance, what they have implemented so far.
“So, it is also important. Furthermore, there is transparency. This transparency will also help us in some ways.
“And finally, there is public confidence. If you receive an email, dot government dot ng, you will have that confidence that this is for government institution.’
“So public confidence is key. And if you look at a crime being committed today in the country, Yahoo Yahoo (advanced fee fraud), it is from the generic email, someone may sit in the comfort of his room, create an email using Yahoo, bearing somebody’s name and committing crime.
“That is why even the local name of this they call it Yahoo Yahoo. It is from using generic emails,” Mr Pantami said.
He stated that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must key into the new national policy to promote transparency and good governance.
“It is now a national policy. We must patronise our official accounts and communicate officially when you are about to leave office, there are procedures on either how to hand over the official email or how the email can be shut down completely.
“And a new one can be created for the incoming government official so that government will be able to regulate this effectively,’’ he added.
Pantami revealed that an official circular would soon be issued, explaining the best way to commence immediate implementation of the policy.
He stated the National Information Technology Development Agency, which is the custodian of government domain and the second-level domain, would be readily available to assist MDAs wishing to key into the new policy
“And each government official is supposed to have an official email that he can communicate officially.
“So, this policy has been approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria. And part of the policy also stated that lack of compliance cannot be tolerated by government,’’ he said.