Controversy as NIRA Board Chair circumnavigates Procedure, ‘Anoints’ Next Executive Director


Joseph Biribonwa, Board Chairperson NIRA

Kampala – There is brewing controversy at the National Identification Authority (NIRA) after one Rose Mary Kisembo; head of the IT department at Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) was handpicked by the chairman board of Governors NIRA Joseph Biribonwa to take over from Brig. Gen Kwiringira Stephen has been the acting Executive Director since the contract of the Judy Obitre Gama expired on July 15 2020 and was not renewed.

Background

The NIRA Board of Directors took a decision to fill the vacant position of Executive Director using the head-hunting method, and a committee was set up to work with the Public Service Commission to identify potential candidates. 12 candidates were interviewed by the public commission through both written and oral interviews.

Thereafter, three successful candidates were identified with the competencies to serve in that position, and were presented to the Board for final selection. However, in the midst of the process another candidate; a one Rose Mary Kisembo who heads the IT department at UNRA was “sneaked” into the process and presented to the Board, and yet she was not part of the candidates who were interviewed by the Public Service Commission.

The current state of affairs is that the candidate who did not go through the due process of public service is the one that has been recommended for appointment as the next Executive Director, and the whole process is in total violation of the Public service Act of 2008.

According to a source privy to information at the Authority who spoke to us last night, the 12 who were shortlisted went through the public service commission but the same did not happen for Kisembo who was only Interviewed by the Board contrary to the Public Service Act of 2008.

The decision to look for look for a new executive director by the Board comes after the 18 May 2020 letter by President Yoweri Museveni to the Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo directing that a new Executive Director with legal and information background be identified to head the authority.

“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 cards, there is need to identify a new executive director preferably with a legal or information technology background. I am therefore directing you to work with the Board of Directors of NIRA and identify a suitable candidate. Consult me, before a final decision is reached on the matter,” Museveni wrote.

When this reporter reached out to the Board Chairman NIRA, Joseph Biribonwa on how Rose Mary Kisembo’s name came up yet she was not among the top three candidates who were identified to be presented to the board for selection, he had this to say. “The selection process was through head-hunting and not through public advertisement, and is still going on, that is all I can say”.

On when the new executive director will be appointed, Biribonwa said that the appointing authority is the Board of Directors and the Minister of Internal Affairs; who gives the green light to the choice made by the board and he cannot put him under pressure.

When further asked on how the fate of the three candidates chosen by the board for selection for the position, the chairman reiterated that the selection process is still ongoing.

Our efforts to get a comment from Benon Mutambi; the Permanent Secretary of the ministry of Internal Affairs were futile by press time as his known telephone lines went unanswered.

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