The Federal Government has declared a two-week timeframe for processing passport applications, signaling the end of Nigerians enduring months-long waits for their international passports.
Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior, made this announcement during a media event in Abuja on Wednesday.
He had directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to clear a backlog of over 204,000 passport applications.
Although the minister expressed his sincere apologies for the backlog taking three weeks to clear instead of the initially set two-week deadline, he commended the NIS officers and personnel for their diligent efforts, including working around the clock, weekends, and holidays to fulfill his directive.
Dr. Tunji-Ojo emphasized that while obtaining visas is a privilege, acquiring international passports is a fundamental right. He also assured that President Bola Tinubu is committed to not increasing the passport application cost, despite fluctuations in foreign exchange rates.
He said; “On September 7, we made a promise to sort out the backlogs in two weeks but we made it in three weeks and I sincerely want to apologize to Nigerians for that.
“The Renewed Hope administration of President Bola Tinubu is one that matches its words with actions. The issue of passport must be a fight and not a privilege. Visa is a privilege but passport is a right and we are happy that today, we have been able to handle over the rights of Nigerians to them.
“For us, we are assured that if it can work in NIS, it can work anywhere else. Nigeria is undergoing a process.
“We inherited 204,332 enrolments without passports being issued. People that had applied and captured. That was the figure and we gave a marching order because the president was also on our necks to bring solutions and succour to Nigerians.
“We went into strategic meetings with the NIS and with the support of our service providers, we were able to increase printing machines to four in passport offices where we had two. Our service providers gave us the machines at no cost.
“The NIS personnel were doing three shifts, working 24/7 to make sure that we cleared the backlogs and to ensure that never again are we going to have backlogs of passport production.
“We want to ensure that nobody waits for more than two weeks to get their passports.
“As of October 1, we had cleared all the 204,332 backlogs and from the records produced by NIS, the number of passport already collected is 91,981. Outstanding but available is 112,351.
“We are pleading with Nigerians to please go and collect their passports. Please, do not give money to anybody. If there is any passport office where you have done your capturing and they do not give you your passports, please lodge your complaints via the following; 0802 375 3414, preferably SMS and Whatsapp. Or email email@example.com
“The attitude of a very negligible fraction of NIS officers will not cast aspersions on the work of the majority of good officers”.
The minister has reviewed all the contracts and agreements between the ministry and its affiliated agencies, and he announced that in the coming months, passport applicants will have the option to upload their own passport photos through the immigration portal, eliminating the need to visit passport offices for photo capture. He explained that applicants will only need to go to passport offices for the enrollment of their biometrics.
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