In view of the several challenges associated with passport application processing, the Federal Government has said it has become imperative to review its passport operations and rejig the system, in order to offer excellent services to her clients.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola disclosed this today at a meeting with the Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammad Babandede, Passport Officers, as well as the attachés in Nigeria Missions abroad, at the Immigration Headquartres, Sauka, Abuja.
TheFact Nigeria reports that, according to Aregbesola, the Federal Government is turning around the entire passport application process by the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, to not more than six weeks, so as to ensure seamless, transparent processing, to accord human dignity to applicants, and to fulfil citizenship integrity, in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.
In his speech titled: ‘A NEW DAWN IN PASSPORT APPLICATION PROCESSING’, the Minister recounting such passport challenges as shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, issuing of passports to ineligible persons, among others, said that efforts are on to embed security operatives both seen and unseen, in all passport offices.
According to him, the security operatives “will wear body cameras” and “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.”
The Minister disclosed further that an ombudsman will also be created for members of the public to make complaints and reports on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and subversion of the process.
“Therefore, I am declaring a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees,” he said.
Aspects of the new passport process include, but are not limited to:
– The creation of special centres for expedited services. These special centres which will run on public-private partnership basis have already taken off in Abuja, with 10 more expected to be opened in coming weeks as more of such centres will be opened all over the country. The intended goal is to have one in each local government, university campus, institution of higher learning and other places.
– A collection date of not more than six weeks for every application, which is comparable to what obtains in other countries. This is to create ample time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants, and the resultant peace of mind that comes with assurance of certainty. Any change of circumstances that will affect collection date 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 technology for the efficient running of this system has been acquired and will be deployed.
– To publish the list of the backlog of applications that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. Applicants will be required to go to the State commands to collect them.
With these changes, the Minister said, “It is my firm belief that we will arrive at a new dawn in passport application processing.”
He therefore called for the support and maximum cooperation of all passport officers so as to make more significant contributions to national development.
“It should be our personal and collective goal to leave an institution better than we met it,” he reiterated.
Aregbesola expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consistent support to the Ministry of Interior and all its agencies, and also commended the Controller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammad Babandede, for his tireless efforts and the unprecedented success the agency has recorded under his leadership.
Aregbesola lauded all the officers who are sacrificially serving to man the nation’s borders and do the business of the agency under very challenging conditions. ‘I must thank all our partners, without whose efforts and contributions our exertions would have been in vain,’ he stressed.
Earlier, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammad Babandede, said the need to reduce the waiting period for applicants led to the new review.