Many Nigerians still think “234 or 23401” is the postal code for Nigeria, but sadly, this is very wrong. There is a website individuals can get postal codes for almost any address in Nigeria, but the laxity in its management by the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), the government agency responsible for managing that website is where the story begins.
The website http://nigeriapostcodes.com/ was first registered on December 4, 2009 before it expired on December 4, 2016, and was not renewed again, at least not by NIPOST. A BusinessDay article at the time, chronicling dysfunctional websites by government agencies, tried to draw attention to this. Today, an unknown entity has resurrected the website, which is now far from offering accurate information, and since whichever private entity that owns it is not obligated to run it as a charity, adverts have been generously embedded all over it for revenue.
On July 11, 2017, more than seven months after the original website expired, NIPOST registered another website, this time; www.nigeriapostcode.com.ng. Making an internet search for ‘Nigeria Postal Code’ still favours the old website that has now been taken over by someone else, as the new website by NIPOST hardly shows up on the first page.
While the postal code website may have been lucky to somewhat get resurrected, others have not. Three years ago in 2016, it was observed on the website of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), that some ‘important links’ were listed in the footer area. Among these are Federal Ministry of Health, hyperlinked to the address; www.fmh.gov.ng, and the Federal Ministry of Finance, hyperlinked to the address; www.fmf.gov.ng. Both addresses showed a ‘suspended page’, an indication that the hosting account for each of the websites was no longer active.
Both ministries operate accessible web addresses at www.health.gov.ng and www.finance.gov.ng whereas three years later (in 2019), they are still referenced on other official portals such as the NBS as fmh.gov.ng and fmf.gov.ng respectively; web addresses that still do not function.
As noted in the BusinessDay report, the conflicting addresses, though showing government domain extensions, are capable of causing either mistrust or confusion for people who may have official business to transact with the ministries, departments, and agencies of government.
Also, the website of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) when previously visited, prompted an antivirus alert (at least by Bitdefender) stating the website is unsafe and it has detected elements that may harm the computer. On Tuesday, even after three years, the security prompt indicated “Fraudulent page blocked for your protection”. It further noted that; Fraudulent pages usually attempt to trick you into sending money with the intent of obtaining unlawful gain.
Ignoring the security warning and accepting the risks, another surprise awaits a visitor to the website. Three years later, the EFCC’s media and public affairs page is still showing a “page cannot be found” notice when visited to reach out to the unit for response as to why the anti-fraud agency’s website is itself being considered a fraud threat to PCs.