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FG To Save N4.9bn From Cancelled e-Passport Contract

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The federal government will henceforth save the nation a whooping $138 million from its cancellation of all  e-passport printing contracts abroad .

LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the decision to domesticate the production of international passports (e-passports)  will, among other things, protect the nation’s database, create employment opportunities and increase savings in forex.

Recall that  President Muhammadu Buhari  had, through his  special adviser on media and publicity,  Femi Adesina, announced his decision  in a statement released weeks ago.

Adesina had explained that by the new directive ,  all existing contracts concerning printing of  passports and other documents will not be renewed on expiration.

The cancelled 10-year $138m  contract,  which was signed by the ministry of interior on behalf of the Nigerian government, was  sealed in 2003 to implement the Harmonised ECOWAS Electronic (SMART) Passport Autogate Systems. It was also revealed that additional contracts were further entered into for the supply of e-Passport Booklets, Wafers and Maintenance services from 2006 to 2015 but expired in 2017

There are feelers that the termination of the deal is not unconnected to the perception of the deal as jeopardising national security.

LEADEESHIP Sunday also recalls that barely five months to this announcement, the immediate past minister of Interior, Lt. Col Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) had on February 5, 2019 announced the partnership between Nigerian Security Printing and Minting  Company and IRIS Smart Technologies Limited to domesticate the production of the passport.

This latest development is coming  a year after the federal government in 2017 promised, through the Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede , to domesticate the  printing of e-passports .

The Immigration boss  revealed then that the Minister of interior had set up a committee comprising critical stakeholders that would ensure the project was implemented in 2018. However, nothing was announced concerning the project until now.

Though the feat is coming months after the  federal government  signed the MoU with IRIS Smart Technologies Limited , observers are of the view that the decision will boost the nation’s economy

IRIS Smart Technologies Limited  is a Nigerian ICT company. Its parent company, Iris Corporation based in Malaysia has always been responsible for producing the Nigerian e-passports. However, through the newly signed MoU, the e-passports will now be produced by its Nigerian subsidiary.

The new development, according to the former minister, will ensure the “availability of passport booklets and there will be no more complaints of shortage or delivery beyond 48 hours after application.”

Dambazau suggested, in a tweet, that the move would also make passports cheaper for Nigerians.

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