Reports have surfaced indicating a clandestine effort within the corridors of power to orchestrate the merger of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) with the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC), sparking apprehension within NIRA’s ranks.
The proposed amalgamation, which would birth a new entity named the National Citizenship and Registration Services has sent ripples of concern through NIRA with top brass from both NIRA and the Ministry of Internal Affairs allegedly spearheading this covert initiative.
However, this move stands in stark contradiction to a previous Cabinet decision, which stipulated that NIRA should maintain its autonomy while expanding its role to include the registration of vital events such as births, marriages, and deaths—a responsibility previously held by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau.
In a meeting convened on January 24, key figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs including Permanent Secretary Lt. Gen. Joseph Musanyufu, Deputy NIRA Executive Director Brig. Stephen Kwiringira, Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Birwakwate, and representatives from DCIC deliberated on the proposed merger.
Although Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson Simon Mundeyi confirmed the meeting, he vehemently denied any clandestine efforts to merge NIRA with DCIC, attributing the discussion to a mere exploration of enhancing NIRA’s functionality, particularly in regard to alien registration.
Yet, insider sources reveal ulterior motives behind the push for merging the agencies. One primary rationale is rooted in past discrepancies, notably the 2014 mass ID registration fraught with allegations of corruption and the improper issuance of national IDs to thousands of aliens, including those from Pakistan, a country that does not permit dual citizenship.
Acknowledging past lapses, Mundeyi admitted to historic errors but affirmed a newfound commitment to adherence to the law, ensuring strict scrutiny of applicants’ citizenship status.
Despite Mundeyi’s reassurances, suspicions linger regarding the motives behind merging the agencies. Insiders suggest that certain Ministry of Internal Affairs officials purportedly aligned with defeated bidders from previous procurement processes seek to undermine forthcoming projects, including the impending mass registration and ID renewal.
With NIRA allocated a substantial budget of Shs 666 billion for the 2024/25 fiscal year, concerns mount over potential misappropriation and misuse of funds particularly in light of inflated procurement costs for biometric kits.
While NIRA presses forward with plans to introduce advanced security features and biometrics to enhance ID authentication and verification, deadlines loom for the processing of millions of IDs, underscoring the urgency of the situation amidst swirling controversies and suspicions of foul play.