The Nigerian government is committed to providing its citizens, both in the nation and abroad, with a smooth and effective passport application process, as stated by Minister of Interior Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.
He claimed that in order to restore optimism for the country, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu gave him and the other cabinet members this instruction.
As the first speaker for the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission’s (NIDCOM) 2024 Diaspora Webinar Lecture Series, “New Passport Policy and Processes for Nigerians in the Diaspora,” Tunji-Ojo stressed the significance of offering excellent service worthy of Nigeria’s status as the continent’s largest country.
He claims that starting on March 8, 2024, Nigerians will be able to apply for passports using a contactless method, which will cut down on the processing time to a maximum of seven to ten minutes.
This significant change is a component of the larger initiative to improve citizen service delivery and modernise the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS).
The Minister emphasised significant accomplishments and broad changes made to the Ministry and its subsidiaries, especially the NIS. Examples of these include clearing the backlog of more than 200,000 passports in just three weeks after taking office and installing E-Gates at international airports to expedite the entry and exit procedures.
The Minister also detailed plans to establish state-of-the-art control centres at international airports in Lagos and Abuja, with the goal of boosting immigration officials’ capabilities and offering Nigerian travellers a smooth travel experience.
Nigerians will just require their National Identity Number (NIN) for passport applications and biometrics, he said, emphasising the value of using technology to streamline the passport acquisition process.
“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”, he said.
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.
The former lawmaker 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, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, 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.
This is NiDCOM’s first diaspora virtual lecture series in 2024