The National Union of Nigerian Associations in Italy (NUNAI) has lauded the Federal Government of Nigeria for promptly responding to its appeal for the supply of passport booklets to the Embassy in Italy.
NUNAI disclosed this in a video interview with journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, which refuted recent media reports that over one million, five hundred thousand Nigerians were yet to be issued their passports.
Secretary of NUNAI, Frank David, who described the report as a fallacy, said the total number of Nigerians in Italy is not up to a million.
David noted that it was impossible for over one million Nigerians supposedly living in Italy to be stranded for lack of passport.
He noted that currently, there are 209,000 Nigerians in Italy, 180,000 are legally documented with 29,000 yet to be documented.
He said that as much as NUNAI, the umbrella body of all Nigerian Associations in Italy will continue to appeal to the Federal Government for regular supply of booklets, they also appreciate the intervention so far.
“The publication by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE) which claims that 1.5 million Nigerians in Italy are in need of passport booklets in Italy is a fallacy and we debunk such claims.
“The population of Nigerians in Italy is not up to one million. And on the issue of passport, yes are requests for people who need to renew their passport of get fresh passports.
“But the mission has captured thousands of Nigerians who are having issues with passport in the past months and that is a great deal.
“There was an intervention about three months ago, especially in my own city, Modena we were able to capture about 250 people, we went to another city called Pesaro and we were able to capture 138 people.
“We went to another city which I supervised and they were able to capture over 170 people. So if you sum all these figures up you will get about a thousand.
“Be that as it may, there are other cities that need to be covered and that is not to say that they are up to a million. I stand to debunk that any day, any time.
“NUNAI as it were is the umbrella body of all Associations in Italy which NIDO should be part of, and NUNAI has been working with Embassies long before the existence of NIDO in Italy.
“I wouldn’t want to speak more in favor or in criticism of NIDO because I do not know their modus of operandi and how they got their information.
“NUNAI has been in the forefront of issues that concerns Nigerians in Italy, in terms of welfare, in term of documentation, we have been working assiduously is collaboration with Embassies,” David said.
For his part, the Welfare Officer of NUNAI, Frank David, also appreciated the Federal Government, the Nigerian Ambassador to Italy, Mfawa Abam, and the Immigration Attache to the Mission for their swift response.
He said that Amb. Abam and the immigration attaché to the mission have been working tirelessly to ensure the challenges of scarcity of passports was solved to ameliorate the plight of Nigerians living in Italy.
“We are all aware of the challenges the Nigeria Immigration service is experiencing, which is not only affecting Nigerians in Italy but even those living in Abuja.
“The supply of booklets to Italy is not regular but there are cases where the Embassy gets 1,000, gets 500, gets 2,000.
“After we have made a passionate appeal to the two Ministers, the Comptroller General of immigration last month, we have started getting supply.
“Before the Christmas we got supply of about 1,500 because I work closely with the immigration and they promised to give us more, they are talking of giving us 10,000 booklets to clear the backlog.
“There is an improvement, and the immigration and the Nigerian mission is working but more need to be done because Nigerians have to renew their passports and get new ones,” he said.