New e-Passport Takes Off Friday

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday inaugurated Nigeria’s new 64-page e-passport with a call on Nigerians to protect the image of the country by shunning uncomplimentary statements and actions.

Jonathan launched the traveling document shortly before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He and Vice President Namadi Sambo later took turns to be captured in order to be issued with the new traveling document. The new passport takes effect from August 1 (tomorrow).

Jonathan said Nigerians must be ready to work hard in order to improve the image of the country.

The President said, “The issue of the image of the country is what we will all work for, people in government, the media and the civil society.

“I always say that when people continue to paint their country with all kinds of colours, that is the way they will associate those colours with your green passport.

“I want a situation that whenever you travel to another country and you raise your green passport, people will appreciate you and not when you raise your green passport, people will begin to think that that green passport signified some suspicious character.

“We are not helping ourselves when we paint ourselves the colours that we are not supposed to bear.

“I wish to continue to appeal to all Nigerians that we must all collectively learn how we do our things, statements that we make, to paint brighter colours for our green passport.”

The President said the pages of the traveling document had to be increased from 32 to 64 to cater for frequent travellers who change their passport almost every other month because of limited pages for visa.

He urged officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service to protect the integrity of the passport by ensuring that it would be difficult for anybody to fake it.

Jonathan also asked officials who man the nation’s airports to ensure that they conduct themselves in a manner that would portray the country well before visitors.

He added, “I always sympathise with those who travel almost on a weekly basis, changing passport every month, at least we have moved a step forward. The key thing is for us to have a robust relationship with key countries so that some of these frequent travellers may not need visas and that will really help us more.

“One thing one must know today is that it is not the issue of 64-page passport that is key to Nigerians but the security. If our passport could be easily faked by criminals, then we will have problems.

“One thing again is that how can Nigerians get passport easily especially those living outside this country?

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