The Joint Action on Information Technology Awareness and Development (JACITAD) has appealed to President Olusegun Obasanjo to withhold his assent to the National Information Technology Commission Bill 2006 over fundamental provisions in the proposed law that subverts the aspiration of the Nigerian Internet community.

"JACITAD would like to bring to the urgent attention of Mr President that the Bill seeking to establish the National Information Technology Commission to plan, develop and promote the use of IT in Nigeria includes provisions that threatens to undermine Internet growth in Nigeria", said President, JACITAD, Mr Shola Fonawopo.

JACITAD observes that following the intervention of President Obasanjo to broke peace among contenders for ownership of the national resource, he had directed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to supervise the setting up of a Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD .ng) Manager in the form of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that will represent the internet community in Nigeria.

The JACITAD president said that even though the NGO, which is called the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) various provisions have found their way into the final Bill that will hijack the smooth running of this body if the proposed law goes into effect.

"Significantly, the version that was passed by the National Assembly is at variance with proposals forwarded by the Nigerian internet community during series of extensive public hearings of which various stakeholders including JACITAD participated", said Fonawopo.

"We would also like to place on record that those provisions were not included in the draft Bill that was presented to stakeholders during the review and subsequent public hearing undertaken at the National Assembly on the matter", he added.

In line with President's Obasanjo's directive on the way forward to resolving the domain name issue, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was appointed 'Technical Contact' and to midwife the setting up of NIRA.

Founder of Technology Times and Member Board of Trustees (BOT) of NIRA, Shina Badaru, said that other stakeholders, through their representatives on NIRA have equally expressed concern over the disclosure that final version of the Bill that was passed, "was not the version that was presented for review by stakeholders."

"We were surprised to see that some supplementary provisions have made their way into the final version of the Bill that was passed which grants broad powers to NITDA or any other agency created by the proposed law over what should ordinarily a body that reflects the diversity of the Nigerian internet community", said Badaru, who represents the Nigerian media on the NIRA BOT.

According to Badaru, "we align our position with that of other ICT industry stakeholders who believe that the proposed law calls for urgent review as the foundation of the domain name management is quite pivotal to the growth and development of a virile internet community in Nigeria"

Daily Trust

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