Following applicants’ unceasing complaints of difficulty in obtaining the Nigerian passport from the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Federal Government will begin a new regime of passport processing and issuance starting from June 1, 2021.
Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, announced the new regime on Friday during a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Immigration Service, all passport control officers in Nigeria and Immigration Attachés around the world in his office in Abuja.
The Minister explained that in the new regime a timeline for the collection of passports would be fixed for every application.
“This will be six weeks. This is to allow for enough time to investigate, verify and validate personal information supplied by the applicants”, he said.
To ensure smooth takeoff of the new regime, Aregbesola noted that the Ministry of Interior has also created special centres for expedited passport services.
“These special centres will run on a public-private partnership basis. This has already taken off in Abuja and 10 more will be opened in coming weeks as more of such centres will be opened all over the country.
“What we are driving at is the peace of mind that comes from assurance of certainty. If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it will be communicated to the applicant one week before the collection date.
“Applicants will have no basis for further communication with officers, other than to complete their application process and leave the venue. The date for the collection of their passports or any challenge to the application, will be communicated to them,” the Minister tweeted on his handle, @raufaregbesola.
He also assured that all backlogs of undelivered requests for passports would be sorted out before May 31, 2021 except problematic applications.
“Every applicant that does not have a problem will be issued a passport before the May 31st deadline”, he assured further.
Aregbesola disclosed that the technology for the efficient running of the new system has been acquired and would be deployed soon, while the Nigerian Immigration Service is going to publish on its website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready, which are yet to be collected by the owners, with the applicants required to go to the state commands to collect them.
“With these changes, it is my firm belief that we will arrive at a new dawn in passport application processing.
We are turning round the entire application process in a way that is seamless, transparent and will accord human dignity to applicants and fulfill citizenship integrity”, he said.
The minister has also declared a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting as no applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees. “We are going to embed security operatives – seen and unseen – in all our passport offices. They will wear body cameras.
“They will detect and report any form of solicitations, inflation, improper communications, extortion, diversion, hoarding and other corrupt practices. Those caught will be dealt with according to the law”.
According to him, an ombudsman would be created for members of the public to receive complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.
Explaining the rationale for the new regime of passport processing, Aregbesola added that “it has become imperative that we review our operations and rejig our system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to our clients. We need to review a system from time to time to see if it helps best to serve and realise the objectives”.