By Tayo Olu
In a bid to safeguard official communications, the Federal Government has banned its institutions and officials from using generic domains and free email services.
This followed the approval of the ‘National Policy on Second Level Domain’ by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami, disclosed the development at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, on Wednesday.
According to Pantami, all federal government institutions using generic domain names for their websites must migrate to ‘.gov.ng’ while officials are to stop using free email services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail, amongst others, for official communications.
The minister said, “…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.
“So, this will not be tolerated by the government anymore. Any official communications must be using official email. And that email should not be a generic one. It must be dot government dot ng.
“What is most important is, dot ng, that is our national identity. 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. Dot 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 the new policy is aimed at protecting the nation’s cyberspace as well as safeguarding its 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 Nigeria 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 organizations 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, 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,” 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,’’ Pantami added.