BY DAVID ADUGE-ANI, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that it was turning around the entire passport application process by the Nigeria Immigrations Service (NIS) to six weeks, so as to ensure seamless, transparent, as well as according human dignity to applicants and fulfil citizenship integrity, in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Interior.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this on Thursday at a meeting with the Comptroller-General of Immigrations, Mohammad Babandede, passport officers, as well as the Attaches in Nigeria Missions abroad, at the Immigrations Headquarters in Sauka, Abuja.
The Minister said, “We have had several challenges in the past, including shortage of booklets, touting, racketeering, inflating the cost, passports being issued to ineligible persons, among others. It has become imperative therefore to review our operations and rejig our system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to our clients.”
Aregbesola added that efforts were on to embed security operatives both seen and unseen, in all 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,” he stressed.
He further disclosed that an ombudsman will also be created to receive complaints and reports from members of the public on officers trying to deviate from prescribed guidelines and engage in 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.
Aregbesola, who expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consistent support for the Ministry of Interior and all its agencies, also commended the Controller-General of NIS 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, adding that, “I must thank all our partners, without whose efforts and contributions our exertions would have been in vain.”
Earlier, NIS Comptroller-General, Muhammad Babandede, said the National Identification Number (NIN) is now compulsory for issuance of passport.
Babandede stated that the need to reduce the waiting period for applicants led to the new review.