The Federal Government on Tuesday restated its commitment to improving the passport application process for Nigerians at home and in diaspora, as it launches the new enhanced passport.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, gave the assurance at the official Rollout of the Enhanced e-Passport at the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom.
Aregbesola said the Nigerian passport is the highest affirmation of Nigerian citizenship, and therefore it is the responsibility of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide the passport without any stress, within a reasonable period.
“What we have come to do here is symbolic of the core mandate of the Ministry of Interior and indeed, the Federal Government of Nigeria – affirmation of citizenship integrity. The Nigerian passport is the highest affirmation of Nigerian citizenship. It is therefore our responsibility to provide the passport without any stress, within a reasonable period.
“As we are all aware, there have been huge challenges to passport administration, from a shortage of booklet to touting and an economy of corruption built around it. These challenges have persisted for too long and a lot of people have become cynical while others have taken them as normal and then roll with it. But I come from a tradition of problem-solving in public administration. I do not believe that any problem is insurmountable, so we are going to solve all the problems associated with passport administration and we are already succeeding,” the minister said.
He hinted that the new passport is an improvement from the standard Passport that was introduced back in 2007, with more sophisticated security features, making it one of the most secured passports in the world.
“The Enhanced e-Passport is a great improvement on the Biometric Passport technology which Nigeria adopted in 2007 as a strategic step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of frauds associated with obtaining travel document under the old Machine Readable Passport regime. We are aware that technology rules the world and we are keeping abreast of the latest development in the field.
“Over the years, the Nigeria Immigration Service had worked assiduously and in close synergy with Messrs Iris Smart Technologies Limited to develop and implement Passport reforms that are in tandem with international best practices, including extant International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Standards and Regulations,” Aregbesola revealed.
The Minister also said the NIS under his tenure has issued a total of 2.7 million Nigerian passports in the past two years.
In his own remarks, Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, DCG Isa Jere, revealed the Service’s readiness to meet the demands for passports in the United Kingdom, stating that his officers are ready to roll out the new passports, going forward, at the official rate published on the NIS website.
At the event were the Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Isola; Acting Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Isa Jere; senior Nigerian diplomats; members of the diplomatic corps, Nigerians in diaspora amongst others.