Abuja, Feb. 7, 2024: The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has reiterated the ministry’s determination to begin the full implementation of the new passport policy for the benefit of Nigerians at home and abroad.
Tunji-Ojo disclosed this at the 2024 Diaspora Quarterly Virtual-lecture series titled: New Passport Policy/Processes for Nigerians in Diaspora” organised by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister said the ministry was ready to automate passport enrolment via streamlined and efficient processes, adding that the automated passport application process for those in the diaspora is scheduled to begin on March 8, 2024.
This, according to him, will begin at four missions, namely: Italy in Europe, Canada in the Americas, South Africa in Africa, and Malaysia in Asia.
“Following a month of refining any glitches, we aim to deploy globally by April 8, 2024,” he added.
“The ministry has taken bold steps toward the launch of a new passport policy for Nigerians at home and abroad.
“This is to decongest existing centres by establishing dedicated passport processing and collection centres in the diaspora and fast-tracking service operations both domestically and internationally, and reducing processing delays in Europe through the enhanced e-passport.
“A dedicated team from the ministry has been deployed to the UK to oversee the implementation of the E8-Mandate, emphasising our commitment to delivering tangible results.
“We are rolling out enhanced e-passport facilities at selected Nigerian embassies in Europe, thereby positioning Nigeria as a leader in technological innovation within the African continent.
“This enhanced e-passport, compliant with all International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, ensures international recognition and security.
“It offers Nigerians in the diaspora greater convenience with online application and payment platforms, reduced processing times, and enhanced security features, allowing for travel with peace of mind.”
He said although acquiring the Nigerian passport has historically been a cumbersome process, marred by long queues, bureaucratic hurdles, and unnecessary delays, such will soon be thing of the past.
He attributed success recorded in the efforts to passport issues under the visionary leadership of President Bola Tinubu to be in terms of clearance of over 200,000 passport backlogs within three weeks and addressing national crisis and reinstating pride in our identity system.
“Furthermore, we’ve spearheaded the deployment of e-Gates at international airports, a significant stride towards streamlining entry and exit processes for Nigerians.
“As we speak, the e-Gates have been successfully installed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, with an additional 16 E-Gates anticipated for delivery and installation in Lagos next week.
“In line with our March deadline, we are diligently working towards establishing a modern control center across all our international airports, including Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Enugu.”
The Chairman/CEO of NiDCOM, Dr Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the minister for the success so far recorded withun a very short period particularly in the area of passport regime.
“One of the biggest issues is related to the issue of passport. All the time we’ve been bombarded with questions on the issue of passports, and the minister came on board and said the process would be fully-digital.
“So, this is a platform to have the Minister of Interior and Mrs Caroline Adepoju, Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service to explain what the process means,” she said.
The guest speaker, Mrs Adepoju said the e-passport regime policy would make application processes modern, ensure effectiveness, and efficiency, as well as improve NIS service delivery.
This, according to her, is to support the federal government’s policy on single identification depository with the National Identity Management Commission and the prevention of identity theft in relation to travel documents.
“The total number of passports issued in 2021 was 1,330,506, in 2022 the total was 1,597,729, which indicates an increase of of 57 per cent, whereas in 2023 the total number of passports issued was 2,141,300, this is a 100 per cent increase.
“These data are pointers to the need for this reform, to reduce pressure on our overstretched facilities, manpower and applicants who wait in endless queues in the cold and the heat,” Adepoju said.