Nigeria’s Immigration Service (NIS) has revealed its plans to eliminate passport scarcity in the country by March 2022.
Isa Idris, NIS’s Acting Comptroller-General, stated this over the weekend while briefing journalists on the agency’s ongoing reforms.
COVID-19, a lack of forex, and the economic meltdown, he said, were all factors in the international passport production shortfall.
According to him, efforts were being made to address the problem with the release of an enhanced e-passport that included more and better features.
Apart from the United Kingdom, he said, the Service has opened similar centers in Kano, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
He stated, ” “We received 45,000 booklets on Friday alone to help clear the backlogs, and we received over 100,000 booklets in December alone, which we have continued to distribute across the country’s passport centers. This is true not only for Nigerians in Nigeria, but also for those in the Diaspora.
However, with the introduction of the enhanced e-Passport, we are well on our way to resolving the scarcity. This enhanced e-passport is a significant advancement over the biometric passport technology that our country adopted in 2007. It’s a strategic move to reduce forgery, impersonation, and other forms of fraud associated with obtaining travel documents under the old Machine Readable Passport system.”
He charged Nigerians to support the agency and make use of technology to put an end to the Service’s egregious practices.
“We’ve also kept trying to avoid personal contact with our officials because we know that technology can help us address some of our problems, such as corruption. My predecessor began to break the curse, and we are still working on it. To avoid corrupt practices, we urge applicants to apply only online and to avoid physical contact with our officers.”
He also advised them to avoid last-minute application rushes, stating that passport renewal applications can be submitted six months before the expiration date.
Except in emergency situations, he said, there is no place in the world where passports are produced in less than 24 hours.