Nigerians in Diaspora have been assured that their pains in getting Nigerian passport would soon be a thing of the past as multi-faceted approach is underway to ensure seamless and efficient passport processing system.
The Federal Government said it will roll out enhanced e-Passport facilities at selected Nigerian Embassies across the globe as a test run of introducing the system all over the world to position Nigeria as a leader in technological innovation within the African continent
The Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo said the enhanced e-Passport, compliant with all International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, ensures international recognition and security.
Given The assurance on Tuesday, 6 February, 2024, during the inaugural 2024 Diaspora Webinar Lecture Series of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) entitled: “New Passport Policy/Processes for Nigerians in the Diaspora.”
The Minister reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian government towards delivering a seamless and efficient passport experience for Nigerians, both within the country and in the diaspora.
He noted that this was the directive from President Bola Tinubu to him and other cabinet members towards the attainment of his renewed hope agenda for the nation.
Tunji-Ojo emphasised the importance of providing top-notch service befitting Nigeria’s stature as the giant of Africa.
He said effective from the 8th of March 2024, Nigerians will benefit from a contactless passport application process, reducing the time required to complete the entire process to a maximum of seven to 10 minutes.
He noted that this monumental reform is part of the overarching efforts to modernise the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and enhance service delivery to citizens.
Highlighting the achievements and sweeping reforms within the Ministry and its parastatals, particularly the NIS, the Minister underscored milestones such as the clearance of over 200,000 passport backlogs within three weeks of his assumption of office and the deployment of E-Gates at international airports to streamline entry and exit processes.
The Minister also outlined plans for the installation of a modern control centre across international airports in Abuja and Lagos, aimed at enhancing immigration officers’ capacity and providing Nigerians with a seamless travel experience.
He stressed on the importance of leveraging on technology to simplify passport acquisition, stating that Nigerians will only need their National Identification Number (NIN) for passport applications and biometrics.
He said: “Through an automated system, data will be pulled from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) database to fill application forms, reducing the risk of identity fraud and ensuring a single point of contact for citizens.”
The Minister added that plans are underway to automate the passport enrollment process, enabling online application, biometric capture, and home delivery of passports, thus eliminating the need for physical visits to passport offices.
The Minister addressed concerns raised by participants from various continents regarding current challenges in passport application and delivery processes, assuring them of the government’s commitment to resolving these issues soonest.
He urged Nigerians to take pride in acquiring their passports, as the new process heralds a new era of hope and progress for the nation and its diaspora community, adding that the Ministry will partner with NIDCOM.
Earlier, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission,
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa Chairman/CEO, commended the Minister’s efforts, highlighting the significance of the Diaspora Lecture Series in keeping Nigerians abroad informed about programmes and reforms of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.
In her presentation, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Caroline Wura-Ola Adepoju, emphasised that the new process would significantly reduce human interaction, thereby eliminating inconveniences associated with passport applications and saving time for both applicants and immigration personnel.
Adepoju said the Service has produced 1, 033,506 million passports in 2021, another 1, 597,729 million in 2022, while in 2023 over a record 2,141,300 million (were produced amidst various challenges.
She, however, said that many Nigerians did not come forward to pick up their passports at various centres she visited recently both within and outside Nigeria, promising that from March, there will be positive improvement in passport production without going through any stress or interventions.