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No more shortage of passport booklets – Aregbesola

THE Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has assured that with the diligent pursuit of the reforms in Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), there will be no more shortage of passport booklets.

Aregbesola gave the assurance, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, during the commissioning of Enhanced Passport Production Centre in the state.

The centre will take care of passport demands from Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa states.

He explained that Edo and Delta, the two other South-South states, were excluded from the Port Harcourt centre because of the high volume of demand for passports from there; hence, they would have their own centre.

He disclosed that out of the 750,000 applications received for the enhanced passports, the NIS, in June this year, provided 645,000.

The minister said: “We have left no stone unturned in our quest to make passports available to Nigerians. Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklets shortage.

“As at the second quarter of this year, the NIS had provided 645,000 passports out of the 750,000 applications received. To address the challenge of the backlog, we have sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa and 8,000 to FESTAC centres in Lagos.

“We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centres nationwide to address this challenge. There is, therefore, no excuse again for delay and non-issuance within a reasonable period.”

The minister also urged the public to make sure they apply by themselves, online, to avoid being shortchanged by unscrupulous elements.

“I urge applicants for the Nigerian passport to apply early enough before their travel date to avoid cutting corners and falling into the hands of scammers and other opportunists. It is important also that they apply by themselves at the NIS portal and not through touts and unscrupulous officials, which often bring heartaches.

“We have provided a window of six weeks and three weeks, for fresh application and renewal respectively, after biometric data capture, by which time, other things being equal, the passport will be ready for collection. This timeline is to enable NIS investigate and validate the claims of applicants and confer integrity on the passport issued. It is a reasonable provision in passport administration by global standard. There is no wait-and-get passport service anywhere in the world. The only wait-and-get passport is passport-sized photograph from Polaroid camera,” the minister added.

The Acting Comptroller General NIS, Idris Jere, said the service would no longer condone any act of indiscipline by officers, noting that they must be professional in carrying out their assigned duties.

Governor Nyesom Wike, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, promised to continue to support NIS in the state, as it was the policy of his administration.

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