Today, a growing number of young people are very active on social media, readily commenting on issues (both real and fake) and in many cases throwing insults and jabs as they deem fit. We are happy that social media have given the younger generation a voice but at the end of the day the digital world is not exactly the real world.

The real world is governed by a set of rules and regulations. So if, for example, you do not like elected officials of your locality or country; you have little or no choice but to endure until their tenure expires.

Even at that, if you really want a person voted out of office, you have to join a political party and then contest or campaign against them. This is simply just the way it is irrespective of our personal feelings or preferences.

My point really is that we cannot afford to continue to be a highly passive younger generation and yet be zealous to see the nation move forward. Using social media platforms to convey our messages, either, negative or positive, to policy makers is not enough. We must start making the necessary moves to become relevant stakeholders in a number of nation building institutions.

I assume someone might probably be asking, has the ICT Clinic column suddenly turned into a political column? The answer is a huge no, but you see, what I just described above relates to what is happening in the ICT industry as well.

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Take a look at the executives of professional bodies or associations operating within the science and technology industry such as the Nigeria Computer Society, you will notice that the younger generation is clearly missing.

In some cases, the younger ones are not interested but in other cases they are simply blocked by folks who have entrenched themselves in the system using legal means referred to as the constitution or a special resolution.

Interacting frequently with a lot of young people has shown me that a number of them are simply not interested in bodies they consider as docile and retrogressive. Notwithstanding their views, my position has always been that at the end of the day, every industry is governed by a set of policies and when new policies are about to be put in place, these bodies you have no regards for are the ones invited to make inputs.

In my own case, the need to support the growth of .NG and the desire to positively influence policy led me to becoming a member of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association and subsequently got elected as a member of the executive board of directors. NiRA is responsible for managing the Nigerian domain strings, i.e., .com.ng on the Internet.

It is possible that someone reading this might ask what exactly CFA is talking about. How does membership of an association like NiRA help my start-up? I’d attempt to buttress my point using a start-up like www.eazyhire.com.ng ran by Josh Okpata, a passionate Nigerian who wants to help property owners make money off their properties using the sharing economy model.

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Okpata has given so much to ensure that his start-up survives against all odds and then after two years of operations, he goes online someday and discovers that his website is down.

On closer inspection, he discovers that the issue is coming from those managing his domain name and the reason is something related to a change of policy or maybe some oversight on the part of the technical committee. What do you think would run through his mind at that point in time? Do you think he won’t regret the fact that he never got involved?

A scenario like this is almost impossible in NiRA of today but that is because some people years ago made a commitment to support .NG and help it grow on the internet.

We expect the number of domain names registered under our national flag to hit 100,000 any moment from now but that is a far cry when compared to a country like South Africa with over a million .co.za domain names.

This is not to say we are doing badly because .NG is reputed to be one of the fastest growing in Africa but it obviously can be much better if we get more Nigerians involved in supporting this critical national asset of ours.

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Frankly, before my election as a board member of NiRA, I had always wished for certain things to be done differently and now as a stakeholder, I am playing a role to see how those changes can become a reality for the good of the start-up ecosystem.

There is simply no way I could have achieved anything positive from the outside without becoming a member. Some people, for instance, have complained to me that that .ng domain names are not affordable and I have tried to explain to them some of the reasons why the current board members believe that it is appropriately priced.

I usually end such conversations with a question, have you considered joining NiRA as a member so that you can contribute to formulating the right policies and bringing down the price?

Most people say to me, CFA that is a good idea but guess what? They never follow through and this baffles me. Well, on a final note, I call on all stakeholders and internet enthusiasts to support the .NG brand by buying and using it as against .com and also, take it a step further by becoming a member of the association that manages .NG; after all, it is our national identity on the internet.

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