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No more shortages of passport booklets

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By Abraham Adekunle

Minister assures booklet availability as NIS launch production center in Rivers.

Rauf Aregbesola, the Minister of Interior, has assured Nigerians that there will be no more shortage of passport booklets, with the reforms being pursued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). He gave the assurance on August 8th, 2022, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during the commissioning of Enhanced Passport Production Centre in the state. According to the minister, the center is set to take care of passport demands from Rivers, Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, and Bayelsa States.

He explained that Edo and Delta, the two other South South states, were excluded from the Port Harcourt center because of the high volume of demand for passports from there. Because of this, they will have their own center. He disclosed that out of the 750,000 applications received for the enhanced passports, the NIS provided 645,000 in June 2022. The minister said, “We have left no stone unturned in our quest to make passports available to Nigerians. Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklet shortage.”

The minister urged the public to apply for passports online.

Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklet shortage. As of the second quarter of this year,” the minister continued, “To address the challenge of the backlog, we sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa, and 8,000 to FESTAC centers in Lagos. We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centers nationwide to address the challenge. There is, therefore, no excuse again for delay and non-issuance within a reasonable  period.”

The minister also urged the public to make sure that they apply by themselves online, to avoid being shortchanged by unscrupulous elements. “I urge applicants for the Nigerian passport to apply early enough before their travel date to avoid cutting corners and falling into the hands of scammers and other opportunists. It is important also that they apply by themselves at the NIS portal and not through touts and unscrupulous officials, which often bring heartaches.”

Head of NIS says acts of indiscipline by officers will not be condoned.

“We have provided a window of six weeks and three weeks for fresh application and renewal respectively, after biometric data capture, by which time, other things being equal, the passport will be ready for collection. This timeline is to enable NIS investigate and validate claims of applicants and confer integrity on the passport issued. It is a reasonable provision in passport administration by global standard. There is no wait-and-get passport service anywhere in the world. The only wait-and-get passport is passport-sized photograph from Polaroid camera,” the minister said.

The Acting Comptroller-General of the service, Idris Jere, said that the service will no longer condone any act of indiscipline by its officers. He noted that they must be professional in carrying out their assigned duties. Meanwhile, Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, who was represented by his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Banigo, promised to continue to support the NIS in the state. He revealed that this has been one of the policies of his administration.

Good news from the NIS since David Hundeyin’s investigative report.

In September 2021, an investigative Journalist, David Hundeyin, published an article titled “The Curious Story of Nigeria’s Passport Shortage,” which garnered a lot of traction. In the article, he supported with documents and facts his allegations of state-sanctioned racketeering, ethnic nepotism, and a complete failure of due diligence. In March 2021, the former Comptroller General of the NIS, Muhammed Babandede, had to verbally acknowledge that there was a shortage of passport booklets. “We acknowledge and apologize for the challenges faced in the past few weeks regarding passport booklets availability,” This made Nigerians have no choice but to patronize the passport “Black Market.” Since the report was published, the NIS has undergone different reforms, one of which is the announcement of the new Comptroller General.


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