President Museveni has sacked the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) Executive Director Judy Obitre-Gama over alleged incompetence and corruption by the Authority.
The NIRA board had written to President Museveni prior, citing that Obitre-Gama’s contract was about to expire, and therefore recommending a renew of the same.
However, Museveni said he could not renew Obitre-Gama’s contract citing incompetence at the authority.
He said NIRA needed someone who understands the profession better.
“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, especially with an Information Technology background,” Museveni reportedly wrote in a recent letter.
“I am therefore directing you to work with board of directors of NIRA and identify a suitable candidate, consult me, before a final decision is reached,” he added.
Obitre-Gama, a lawyer by profession, was sworn in as NIRA ED on July 15, 2015 after a short stint at Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB), where she was a board secretary.
Trouble begins for Obitre-Gama
Trouble commenced for Obitre-Gama when in April 2018 she was investigated for abuse of office, fraud and corruption, and placed under CID.
It all started when the Auditor General raised queries over funds spent in the registration exercise for children in schools.
NIRA had reportedly failed to account for huge sums of money, channeled billions of money to individual accounts and flouted procurement procedures during the exercise that was carried out in both primary and secondary schools across the country during the national ID student enrolment exercise.
It was reported that NIRA sent Shs 2.1b to individual accounts, while Shs1.3b was wired to the chief accountant’s personal bank account.
NIRA also said they had spent Shs 8 billion to facilitate officials, buy a few laptops and batteries. The auditor general could not find the accountability matching the expenditure. The auditor general noted that the laptops had been overpriced and only 350 of the 6000 batteries budgeted for were delivered.
The report cited that NIRA’s activities culminated into a Shs 2.7 billion loss for the country.
Obitre-Gama cited in incompetence
In one of the cabinet meetings in June last year, NIRA was discussed at length after ministers claimed they had received reports of frustration by Ugandans in the process of getting National IDs.
The matter would come up again in another meeting in February 2020.
Indeed, during an event in the same month, the minister of internal affairs Gen Jeje Odongo expressed that he was tired of seeing huge crowds at Kololo airstrip by Ugandans seeking NIRA services.
According to Gen. Odongo, there was a continuous outcry from the citizens about the services offered by the Authority and urged NIRA to immediately find solutions to the challenges it is currently facing.
“I encourage you to apply your mind to improvement of the services as quickly as possible,” he said , adding that the crowds at NIRA offices are symptomatic of the inefficiencies at the authority which require immediate intervention.