The Federal Government is partnering with the private sector under a Public Private Partnership agreement to produce 13 million ECOWAS biometric identification cards for Nigerians worth N14.7 billion.
The Minister of Interior, Retired Lt. – Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, said this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and Euphoria Printing Press Ltd. on Tuesday in Abuja.
Dambazau said the agreement, which would last for 10 years, would be fully financed by the private partner, Euphoria Printing Press Ltd.
He said the Nigeria Immigration Service would be saddled with the responsibility of issuing the cards to Nigerians.
He said: “It is my pleasure to inform Nigerians that in the shortest time possible the current ECOWAS travel certificate will be a thing of the past and the biometric identity cards will be operational.
“It will provide the maximum protection against fraud and identity theft within member states.
“It will promote economic and political cooperation between member states, abolish trade restrictions, remove obstacles to free movement of people, goods and services and achieve harmonisation of the individual.
“I must say that this is a very important process that must not fail and this can only be done through transparency and accountability.
“There must be constant monitoring and evaluation and most importantly we must abide by the TSA rule for all transactions, particularly of accrued revenue.
“I call on all stakeholders for this project to uphold and strictly abide by the term of this agreement.
“I also thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his support and visionary leadership without which this event would not have been possible.”
The minister reiterated the ECOWAS mandate to ensure an identity card to member states of the same colour, with biometric features of the holder that could be checked instantly.
He said that it would reduce the time spent at entry points and enable the Interpol identify persons involved in cross border criminal activities within the region.
According to him, the decision to grant approval for the production of the cards on a PPP arrangement was based on the realisation that it would inject new capital into the economy.
This, Dambazau added would help release the financial burden of public budget.
Also speaking, the Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Chidi Izuwah, commended the President ‘s decision to use the private sector to kick-start and drive the economy of the country.
Izuwah said the cards which would be done across the country would improve the database and manage migration across the sub region.
He said: “This project is expected to provide a reliable database for movement of people within the ECOWAS sub-region.
“It will also create employment and jobs in the IT base for the country.
“What the PPP means is that the entire financing for this project will be provided by the private sector but government will benefit substantially from the project.
“The internal rate of return for this project is 30 per cent, which shows it is a bankable project.
“It went through a development where the ICRC issued an outline business case supply certificate and a full business case which was approved by the Federal Executive Council.
“Today is the highlight of that engagement and by Law, ICRC will take custody of this contract and we expect Euphoria Press Ltd to achieve financial close at the soonest possible time.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer, Euphoria Press Ltd, Abdullahi Girei, expressed readiness of the company to deliver the project.
Girei, however, urged the government to ensure it kept to its bargain of the project to ensure its speedy implementation.