THE Nigeria Immigration Service has undergone multiple operational reforms that have addressed the multifaceted issues relating to passport processing and issuance during the leadership of the Comptroller General of Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede.
The benefiting public can testify to the improvement in services delivery by the NIS from the airport, seaport, and land border frontiers and the issuance of Visa on Arrival, the Temporary Work Permit, and the Biometric Visa among others.
The NIS, according to Sunday James, Service Public Relations Officer of the NIS cannot afford to offer services that negate international best practices, hence the deployment of advanced technologies to service the needs of Nigerians for passport and International entities for visas and other relevant facilities.
For instance, Nigerians are now proud holders of the green passport due to its acceptability and value, contrary to past experiences where the mere sight of a green passport calls for suspicion and ill-treatment,
“Nigerians are no longer singled out in a crowd just for holding a green passport, it is a major achievement worthy of appreciation that today Nigerian green passport is one of the most secured passports globally, the service providers are to be commended for giving the country an ICAO standard passport that matches any other in the world,” James said in a statement.
According to the statement, Babandede has brought his wealth of experience to bear in ensuring that the Nigerian passport is ranked among the best in security, quality and global standard rating by ICAO.
It added that the 10-year validity passport was designed to meet the needs of Nigerians in the Diaspora to reduce the frequent contact or application for renewal of expired passports, considering the distance covered by some applicants to the missions abroad. Already, many Nigerians have applauded this initiative because it has saved them the hassle of traveling outside their base to renew their passports.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has its toll on the operations of the NIS foreign offices in Nigerian Missions that have to comply with country directives on Covid-19 protocols, especially countries that are still experiencing lockdown. The Nigerian Missions cannot operate in isolation as well as the NIS offices in those missions.
In addition, the NIS under the leadership of Babandede has also introduced some passport reforms that allow Nigerians with expired passports to return to Nigeria, if the need arises by applying online to the Comptroller General of Immigration Service for approval to travel with an expired passport to Nigeria, after receiving an approval conveyed to the applicant to be presented to the airlines to enable them to board the aircraft to Nigeria.
The introduction of the Nigerian Temporary Passport will also help in reducing the stress and burden of traveling back to Nigeria when the individual losses his or her passport, or other critical reasons where the passport is not available or valid, it serves to address such emergencies.
The statement also noted that the NIS has proposed the need for the service to produce the passport locally and at its Service Headquarters, thereby domesticating production and having full ownership of production, processing and issuance of the passport.
It disclosed that the Comptroller General has flushed out a whole passport command and its staff and replaced them with new personnel and that some task forces have worked alongside some passport control offices to clear the backlogs, while passport officers are changed discretionary in an effort to make processing, issuance, and acquisition of passport seamless.
The statement explained that the introduction of online payments was to eliminate touting and complaints of extra charges. It noted that “many Nigerians cannot do without cutting corners by using touts, the third party when they can process and pay online themselves unless we eliminate touts and a third party that is being patronized by many applicants, the complaints will not cease and the best offer by the service will not be seen to be yielding result”.
According to the statement, the Comptroller General of Immigration Service has urged passport applicants to avoid the use of touts, third party and do their processing online for both application and payment and report any default or extra charges to the service.
“Every effort put in place to eradicate sharp practices in passport offices will continue as far as the applicants will not resist, report and do online applications and payments and avoid the urgency syndrome,” the statement said, adding that “the service has resolved to prosecute both the giver and receiver of extra charges as corruption must be fought by all.”
– Apr. 12, 2021 @ 14:32 GMT