The exit of the former Uganda National Identification Authority (NIRA) Executive Director is no longer news.
Judy Obitre-Gama’s fate as head of NIRA was actually sealed in February when her direct superior, Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Jeje Odong presented to President Museveni a damning report that outlined the gross incompetence of the ED, management and massive graft that had frustrated NIRA’s operations.
The Internal Affairs Minister said the NIRA had failed to reduce the tedious registration process and big lines at Kololo Airstrip had become the order of the day as frustrated Ugandans lined up the whole day with no luck.
“Mzee was shocked that acquiring an ID would take 6 or more months. Yet getting a passport or driving licenses is matter of hours,” a source privy to meeting says.
The report on being presented to Museveni reportedly left him damned and disappointed by the contents. The President listened in keenly and looked crest-fallen, source at state house further intimated to this website.
NIRA holds a very important position in the country’s governance since registration of citizens helps government plan better especially in the delivery of services. NIRA also registers births and deaths.
The same report also pinned the NIRA ED and her body of picking hefty sums of money to run operations from the central coffers but delivered nearly nothing in return.
It is for example alleged that Judy Obitre and her team requested for billions of shilling to carry out registrations of all school going children in Uganda. The said monies were approved by the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Economic Development. But until no single card has been issued.
Efforts to reach the Internal Affairs Minister were futile as he did not pick the reporters calls. NIRA Publicist Gilbert Kadilo’s known mobile number was unreachable, while Don Wanyama, the Senior Presidential Press Secretary said cabinet minutes were confidential before referring us to the Information Minister who was said to be in another at the time of filing this story.
A NIRA board member who preferred not to be named said they had repeatedly advised the Executive Director to act sternly about the corruption allegations leveled against the organization and to put the ‘house in order’.
“We told her to start working on a turn-around of the organization but it looks like our pleas fell on deaf ears or she was just complacent,” said the board member.
NIRA board chairman Joseph Biribwona when reached, declined to comment on the on-goings adding that the Executive Director has been on leave pending end of her contract on July 13.
Biribwona further added that as the board, they would work with the minister to look for a suitable replacement as directed by the head of state.
The President on 18th May in his letter to the Internal Affairs directed that current contract of the Executive Director be not renewed paving way for search of new ED to head NIRA bringing an end to Judy Obitre-Gama’s tumultuous time as head of NIRA which has for long been taunted as government’s biggest failed institution.
“I have been informed that the contract of the current Executive Director is due to expire. Given the problems faced by NIRA especially, relating to the issuance of national identity card, there is need to identify new Executive Director,” Museveni letter obtained by this website reads in part.