Federal government has said the stress associated with the application and collection of passports will soon be a thing of the past, saying it has issued 2.7 million passports in two years.
The minister of interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this to State House correspondents during the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He said, “It is important to inform you that we have witnessed growing demand for the Nigerian passport both locally and by Nigerians in diaspora. A total of 2,742,207 passports of different categories were issued from 2019 till date.
“The year-on-year increasing growth rate is however putting a lot of pressure on the current processing structure and resources and further justifies the need for a reform in the passport application and processing system in line with the current reality.”
According to him, the ministry was aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians in securing their passports, but noted that effort is being put in place to make it a thing of the past.
“The ministry is aware of the challenges faced by applicants for processing and reissuing passports. I want to use this unique opportunity to assure Nigerians that the current experience will soon be a thing of the past. New production and capture centres will be opened in the next few weeks to ease access by Nigerians all over the world.
“I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the ministry has taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortages of the e-passport booklets. This year alone, the ministry approved a special deployment of over 600,000 passport booklets, the largest of its kind ever done, to cushion the effects of shortages being experienced,” the minister stated.
On reformation and rehabilitation of the inmates, Aregbesola said there are 465 inmates running different degree programmes at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
“There are various ongoing reformation and education programmes for inmates in our custodial facilities. The service, in partnership with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), has increased the number of study centres to 10 across correctional formations (Abeokuta, Anambra, Enugu, Kaduna, Keffi, Kuje, Lafia, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Umuahia).
“There are currently about 465 inmates running various degree programmes, 85 of the inmates are running postgraduate degree programmes, while four are running PhD programmes within the custodial facilities.”
“A total of 560 inmates have been enrolled for WAEC/NECO Examinations, and 2,300 for adult literacy classes in several custodial centres. Additional Borstal Training Institutions for young offenders, male and female, are to be established in each state of the federation,” he said.
On corruption, the minister highlighted the recent sting operation carried out by the ag. comptroller general of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, DCG Isa Jere, at the Ikoyi passport office, noting that many reforms such as a new appointment management system, amongst others are taking place to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.
On escaped inmates from the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCoS, he assured Nigerians that fleeing inmates have nowhere to hide as those still on the run cannot fully reintegrate into the society as all their biometric data have been captured and all other critical information needed to exist as a full citizen has been digitally secured.
“I would like to inform Nigerians that we have captured the biometric information of all inmates in the facilities of NCoS working in partnership with the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
“Therefore, we have the capacity and are tracking all escapees from our facilities. In addition, we are working with and have shared the details of escapees with INTERPOL, to check the risks of cross border movements,” the minister revealed.
The minister stated that 174,000 jobs have been created for Nigerians through the administration of expatriate quotas and business permits.
“Between 2019 and October 2021, over 87,000 expatriate quotas were granted, 951 business permits were granted and 598 licenses were issued to public places of worship for the conduct of statutory marriages.
“In addition, 174,000 understudy jobs have been created through the expatriate quota administration system. We recently inaugurated a Ministerial Task Force on the Monitoring of Expatriate Quota. The primary objective is to audit, monitor and enforce the conditions for the approval of expatriate quota and foreign business permit. Nigerians may wish to note that one of the conditions for the approval of expatriate quota is that for every expatriate position, the company must employ two Nigerians to understudy the expatriate.