Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has ordered the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), to clear over all backlog passport in two weeks.
The Minister gave the order during a meeting with the Acting Comptroller General, Adepoju Carol, the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technologies, a third-party company in charge of the production of passport booklets, and other top government officials, yesterday in, Abuja.
The minister, upon learning that the NIS has a backlog of 200,000 international passport pending, tasked the agency to immediately clear them in two weeks.
“As I am concerned, the issue of passport is a national emergency. I keep getting emails daily from Nigerians complaining. We cannot continue like that.
“It has become an embarrassment to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I represent him here as your minister. That embarrassment is mine now. I am not changing my words. I need the backlog cleared in two weeks,” the ministry ordered.
Charging both the IRIS team and officers of the NIS, the minister revealed that he receives updates on passport enrolments on a daily basis.
“I get daily report on enrolment from NIS on my phone. This is my best way to be in the know of the situation. Nigerians deserve the best. It is their right to own a passport if they can afford it.
“We will also ensure that our debts are cleared by November. My position remains that the delay in the process of obtaining the passport must end,” the Minister added.
The ultimatum came in line with Dr. Tunji-Ojo’s earlier charge to the agency to remove “bottlenecks in the acquisition of passports and other immigration documents,” and his assurance to Nigerians to ease their difficulty accessing the document.
Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria has been a source of frustration for citizens, causing significant delays in obtaining crucial travel documents.
Acting Comptroller General, NIS, Adepoju Carol, assured the Minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to expedite processing of these pending passport applications.
She said that although the number of enrolment as of Thursday morning spills into 200,000 across the country, the agency has been able to secure enough booklets to clear the backlog.
In a similar vein the Minister held a strategic meeting with the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, (FFS), Abdulganiyu Jaji; the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, (NCoS) Haliru Nababa; the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi.
He gave directive to the agencies to present a practical and executable roadmap that entails timelines, approach, deliverables, and methodology.
The directive, according to the Minister, must be fulfilled within a four-week timeframe.