he private sector is the engine of every modern nation and well-intentioned society. The Government of each country merely provides a stimulant for businesses to grow, and everything else is governed by private investors. The stimulus that the Government is expected to provide is nothing more than a suitable atmosphere for businesses to operate in, resulting in a healthy competition for everyone to do business wherever and whenever they see fit. In addition, the Government is expected to create a level playing field for all stakeholders in all endeavours, particularly citizens, and to protect employees’ rights. These are common themes in both the developed and developing worlds when it comes to the role private businesses can play in a country’s economic development. That is why a capitalist economy will always remain ahead of a socialist system because individuals (non-governmental citizens) are placed in charge of the economy since they understand and experience the society’s daily ups and downs. “A thriving business will seek the need to expand, thereby creating additional employment for others,” somebody had this to say.
“It is the private sector, not the government, that will eventually drive Nigeria’s economic growth,” remarked Professor Yemi Osinbajo at the commissioning of BUA’s Sokoto Cement facility in July 2018.
True, and there is not much else to say about it. The poor performance of public firms in Nigeria and elsewhere has been well documented, and it serves as the impetus for a huge privatization programme that has freed various sectors of the economy from the shackles of non-performance.
In the telecommunications and banking industries, it has been nothing short of a revolution. Vice President Osibanjo’s argument has been supported by the performance of private companies in the Telecoms and Finance sectors.
These sectors of the economy have become important drivers of the nation’s economic progress since their deregulation.
In this light, the Buhari administration’s overhaul of Nigeria’s chaotic, corrupt, and inefficient passport administration, issuance, and control should be viewed as a positive development and a game-changer.
The challenges associated with the issuance and administration of Nigeria’s passport have been a thing of the past since the production of the e-passport was outsourced to Iris Smart Technologies Limited, a highly qualified, competent, and engaged private firm.
This PPP (Public-Private Partnership) in e- passport production and administration has become a model for public-private sector collaboration and a taste of things to come. The Federal Government received around $290 million and N80 billion in revenue from the Passport Project without putting any money into its development. As more Nigerians apply for and acquire new passports, this figure is projected to climb.
Nigerian passport holders are no longer subjected to embarrassment at international airports and other travel destinations, as was the case in the past, thanks to the strengthened security elements in the new passports. The days of Nigerian passports being printed and easily obtained on street corners and counterfeit shops are long gone.
Iris Technologies Limited is a fantastic illustration of how Nigeria’s greatest minds may give their quota to national progress as a private enterprise owned entirely by Nigerians and situated in Nigeria.
Iris put its own money into the project; the government never put a dime into it. They put their own money into the project and printed passports; immigration pays them back after the sale, and they have successfully handled this work for years.
It is illogical and terrible that someone in government is considering taking away this employment from these patriotic Nigerians who are not foreigners. Iris Technologies is increasing Nigerians’ trust in technology and in the private sector as a source of investment capital.
When Nigerians complain about a sluggish economy, how else is the economy expected to thrive if not by individuals forming investable businesses, raising funds, and producing values for the common good? Iris, for example, is a privately held company that is doing extremely well. Instead of being discouraged, they should be encouraged.
Unlike the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), which wastes billions of Naira every year but still fails to achieve minimal product or service criteria, Iris Technologies generates e-passports with its own cash.
The corporation took out a $30 million syndicated loan to fund the design and production of the new national passport. It set up equipment for high-definition biometric capture in 86 distinct places, 42 of which were in Nigeria and 44 of which were outside the country.
Because they are efficient and deploy resources in an efficient and result-oriented manner, private enterprises like Iris Technologies flourish where government firms fail. They produce high-quality solutions without squandering resources, energy, or time.
To create and preserve their reputation, they produce high-quality results. If Iris Technologies had been controlled by foreigners, it would have been more regarded and referred to. It is a pity that Nigerians do not appreciate what they have.
This company has also introduced technological advancements that have reached or exceeded industry standards worldwide. The featured advances on the Nigerian e-passport improve its security value by making it hard to fake, counterfeit, or transfer to an authorised user who could represent a security concern to a third-party government.
The new Nigerian e-passport is strengthened by twenty-five new security measures, including the engraving of a holder’s NIN (National Identity Number), and it aids rather than hinders at-risk countries in their fight against terrorism.
The datasheet is also made of polycarbonate, which prevents damage and is not laminated like the previous one. As a result, fraudsters will have a harder time updating personal information, such as a photograph on a Nigerian passport.
The MLC (Multi Laser Image) collects a passport holder’s primary and secondary images. This enhanced tamper-proof feature ensures the passport’s uniqueness and deters attempts to fake or copy it. It is also made of better material than the previous one.
The national passport now fulfills the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) criteria thanks to Iris Technologies’ advances, and it is the result of a Nigerian company, not a foreign one.
It is no surprise that many foreign financial investment firms that deal with money transfers, remittances, Forex trading, Bitcoin trading, and other financial services online, which previously refused to accept Nigerian investors, are now accepting Nigerian investors online all thanks to the new enhanced passport as the only form of user verification/authentication of account (that is, the only government-issued document accepted by these firm to authenticate that such a person is genuine).
Iris Technology has demonstrated what can be accomplished when Nigeria’s brightest minds team together with the government to work on a specific project in the best tradition of private industry. Private companies can reduce the cost of completing a government project by removing needless expenses from the budget while still delivering the finest results. They manage available resources and are willing to bear a loss to ensure that high-quality jobs are delivered on time.
Government projects can be developed and executed by a team of specialists, as Iris Technologies has demonstrated. They recognize a problem, discuss solutions, and jobs are finished much more quickly and professionally than otherwise. They are able to work under duress and still meet deadlines.
Rather than taking away the job that Iris Technologies and other indigenous enterprises have spent so much in, it makes sense on every level to support them.
They can be trusted to protect national assets and not reveal sensitive data because they are a Nigerian enterprise. Nigeria is following the lead of wealthy countries, which empower local businesses to strengthen their technological, financial, and managerial capabilities before encouraging them to move abroad and earn foreign currency for the country.