The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has on Thursday given a marching order to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), demanding the swift clearance of over 200,000 international passports pending applications in two weeks.
The Minister gave the order during a meeting with top government officials, the Acting Comptroller General, Adepoju Carol, and the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technologies, a third-party company in charge of the production of passport booklets.
The order comes in furtherance to his promise to remove “bottlenecks in the acquisition of passports and other immigration documents.
Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria have been a source of frustration for citizens, causing significant delays in obtaining crucial travel documents.
The Minister noted that having to deal with about 200,000 backlogs calls for a national emergency.
He said: “As far 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.”
During the meeting, the Acting Comptroller General, Adepoju Carol, and Managing Director, Yinka Fisher, assured the Minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to ensure the expedited processing of these pending passport applications.
Adepoju disclosed that though the number of enrolments as of Thursday morning spilled into 200,000 across the country, the agency had been able to secure enough booklets to clear the backlog.
In a similar development, the Minister held a strategic meeting with the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Abdulganiyu Jaji; the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa; the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi.
Alao Babatunde, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister of Interior said that in the meeting, the Minister issued a directive for the creation of 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.