Hacking, Internet, Politics, Technology

Nigerian Presidential Inauguration and Nigerian Hack Attacks: To What End?

My dear country Nigeria has decided to spend 1 billion naira or thereabout (about 6.6 million dollars) on the inauguration of her President on 29 May, 2011. This is a move that has been widely criticized by quite a number of people, particularly those that constitute the younger generation. This is quite apparent, even on Twitter, where people have taken to their timelines in order to air their opinions on the issue:

@djsoniq: @NaijaCyberHack I personally do not condone the idea of spending 1bn naira on the inauguration of a president dat we’ve had 4 3yrs already!

@greggihenyen: 1M to 1000 top diverse entrepreneurs >> @NaijaCyberHack: Do you know how far 1 billion naira will go in creating emploments for our youths?

Personally, this is something I am really not happy about. However, it is not surprising considering the prevailing culture of fund misappropriation and wastage in this thoroughly blessed country. It is appalling to know that the government would decide to spend flippant amounts of money on events and occasions when Nigeria is plagued with rampant unemployment despite its vast resources and raw technology talent. Apparently disgusted by the Federal Government’s decision to spend 1 billion naira tax payers’ money on the inauguration of the president, a group of crackers (there is a difference between “crackers” and “hackers”: hackers are programmers) who call themselves “NaijaCyberHacktivists” have decided to take up an interesting form of protest. In a letter, posted on one of the websites they momentarily took down, the group expressed their disgust over the huge amount of money slated for the inauguration, and also made certain demands while giving an ultimatum for them to be met. I read through this letter and I was quite pleased to see how well written it was.

In the letter, the “hacktivists” were able to point out that:

To worsen the matter, the FG is to spend N1bn naira on Jonathan’s inaguration. An inauguration is simply an induction into office, the formal transfer of power to an individual AND NOT a costly long-running festival nor a series of open-ended events organized into convoluted books and chapters.

Frankly, I do not see why the presidential inauguration has to be this elaborate and of course I do not exactly see why it has to cost about a billion naira.

It is not just the idea of spending about 6.6 million dollars on the presidential inauguration that has gotten a good number of people dizzy with disgust. The hactivists, as well as other citizens of my dear country, have also made it clear that they want the Freedom of Information Bill passed as soon as possible. The hacktivists have said that if their demands are not met, they would not only take down government websites, but also coordinate cyber attacks on all financial institutions, e-payment companies and telecommunication companies.

Considering the fact that there have been some notable attacks on some U.S. financial institutions, and on Sony networks by other hacktivist groups, the threats of these nigerian crackers cannot be deemed to be entirely empty.

So far, the Nigerian hactivists have already carried out attacks on some government websites including that of NAPEP and NDDC. Apparently, taking down government websites, according to the hactivists, is just the beginning, as they have made it clear that they would stretch their attacks further. Many of their threats, especially those that have to do with financial institutions and e-payment bodies might actually make a strong impact if executed. However, taking down government websites is mostly a waste of time, in my honest opinion. It simply does not achieve much. However, it is probably a good, but basic demonstration of what the hactivists are capable of.

While noting the fact that most of the websites being brought down by Nigerian crackers are barely in use, just what impact do they think they have succeeded in making? I seriously do not think that these Nigerian agencies care all that much about whether or not their websites are “up” or “down”. Afterall, the majority of these Nigerian (government) websites are actually crappy in the first place. As a model in crappy websites, please take a look at http://www.nigeria.gov.ng. It is quite difficult to believe this is supposed to be the official website of the Nigerian government. I remember that at some point, there was said to be some sort of rebranding of Nigeria’s international image. Websites like these make one wonder just what kind of rebranding was being done and how far it actually went. I am not trying to say sincere efforts were not made by the people in charge of the so-called rebranding. What I intend to point out here is the fact that when it comes to the international image of the country, our leaders (in various institutions of the country) simply do not understand the importance of having proper websites. This was the bone of contention in a previous article of mine. A website serves as a doorway for “strangers” and friends who intend to know more about the people who own the website. Why the hell do some people have a hard time getting this?!?! (I dey vex) A website should be given close-to-top priority.

The questions that are yet to be answered do not deviate far from: what would be the end result of taking down government websites, or even coordinating attacks against financial networks and e-payment bodies? Would this make the Nigerian government scamper to meet the demands of the hacktivists? Is the Nigerian government actually responsible enough to make an attempt to listen before there is pandemonium? Is “hacktivism” the right approach to the many issues that plague our governmental system and lack of discipline?

So many questions, but few answers. How disheartening! I am waiting to see how this plays out, and I am pretty sure I am not alone in the spectator stands.

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