The Federal Government has said it is turning around the entire passport application process by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to Six weeks timeline from 1st of June, 2021, 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. There is a new passport regime that is driven by technology.

The minister of interior Rauf Aregbesola has hinged the future of ISSUANCE OF PASSPORTS in Nigeria to technology. Aregbesola noted that giving the critical role ICT will play in the work of the Service; the ministry has launched an IT solution that has simplified ISSUANCE OF PASSPORTS. According to him, this IT solution “will ensure that all Nigerians carryout registration, without visiting any of immigration offices. This solution can be used anywhere in the world. From the time you register with immigration online. Aregbesola has predicted that technology would play a major role in the future of the issuance of passport. Technology seems to dictate the speed at which life is changing.

Aregbesola is considering the benefit from online passport application roll out. It is designed to improve efficiency and convenience by providing a modern and secure service to millions of passport holders and applicants. The service means applicants can upload a suitable digital photo from their smartphone or tablet, making applying for a passport quick and simple. In total, the whole process takes 10 minutes.

Aregbesola is introducing a host of new tech projects under issuance of passport, and he hopes to complete and implement most of these very soon. The most crucial one, already in its pilot stages, is the integration.

Integration with the database that can make verification a much less tedious task for the passport authorities, This integration will help Nigerians with establishing identity by verifying even the biometric match.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has disclosed that:
“We have created special centres for expedited services. These special centres will run on public-private partnership basis. This has already taken off in Abuja and 10 more will be opened in coming weeks as more of such centres will be opened all over the country. Our goal is to have one in each local government, university campuses, institutions of higher learning and other places.

A timeline will be fixed for every application i.e., a collection date. This will be six weeks, comparable to what obtains in other countries. This is to allow for enough time to investigate and validate personal information supplied by the applicants. What we are driving at is the peace of mind that comes from assurance of certainty. If there are circumstances that will make the date to change, it 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.

We are publishing on our website the list of the backlog of passports that are ready which are yet to be collected by the owners. They will be required to go to the state commands to collect them.”

To permanently curb the complaints of difficulty in obtaining Passports from the NIS, Aregbesola has came up with several innovations that all pending passports will be Issued on or before May 31st, 2021 and starting from June 1, 2021, a new regime will begin. It has become imperative that we review our operations and rejig our system, in order to be able to offer excellent services to our clients. We need to review a system from time to time to see if it helps best to serve and realise the objectives. One, Aregbesola has declared a zero-tolerance stance to all forms of touting. No applicant will be made to pay any illegitimate fees. We are going to embed security operatives – seen and unseen – in all our passport offices. They will wear body cameras.

The Federal Government has said that at least 45,000 Passport Booklets are yet to be collected by applicants at the various Nigeria Immigration Service enrolment centres worldwide. This is coming as the government extends the deadline for clearing Passport Backlog initially for 31st May by one week. The new date for the beginning of the new Passport Regime is now June 8. At a review meeting with the management of the Service, it was revealed that 230,000 Passport Booklets have been produced so far and members of the public enjoined to visit their enrolment centres for collection.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had at a meeting with Passport Control Officers and Attaches of the Service from across the world on April 22 rejigged the Passport Application Processing by announcing sweeping reforms. However, before the beginning of the new passport processing regime, a promise was made to Nigerians to clear all passport backlog.

Minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, has said through a public-private partnership, government would establish at least one special centre in each local government area, beginning with Abuja, to speed up passport processing.

Inwalomhe Donald writes from Abuja