By Tordue Salem
ABUJAâ€”The National Identity Commission (NIC) is under probe over its failure to issue every Nigerian a security National Identity Card, several years after the contract for the project was awarded, the House of Representatives Committee on Interior disclosed yesterday.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Jerimon Manwe (PDP/Taraba), who made the disclosure at an oversight function on Iris Smart Technologies Limited, the Company that is responsible for the issuing of electronic International passports, also issued a three-day ultimatum on the DG of NIC, Mr. Chris Onyemenam to present its 2010 budget estimates and defence on allegations of fraud in the ID project.
The committee sought the replication of what it described as the â€œgood work of Iris on the e-passport projectâ€ in the National Identity Card contract that is seen by many Nigerians to have failed to deliver to terns.
In an exclusive interview with Vanguard, the Chairman described the National ID card scheme as a â€œNational embarrassmentâ€, and added that his Committee had â€œIssued a one week ultimatum to the Director General of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission, to come and explain to us, why the project (National ID card project) is not workingâ€, reiterating that â€œBy one week if he (the DG) does not meet the ultimatum, we know what action we would take nextâ€.
Members of the Committee, however took turns to commend Iris Smart Technology Company, delivering on its promise to government to provide e-passports to applicants.
The Managing Director of Iris Smart Technology, Mr. Yinka Fisher said the Company, in partnership with Iris in Malaysia and other companies in Singapore, Germany and Britain, has so far issued 1.5million passport booklets to applicants and is planning to start issuing a minimum of 3, 500 passports per day to meet the deadline of 2010, when every Nigerian applicant is expected to get an e-passport.
The MD regretted that the government of Nigeria spent a minimum of N400 million for each project of voters card and tax cards, when his company could have been hired to provide a â€œmulti-purposeâ€ ID card that would serve as tax card, voters card and even National ID card.