The Federal Government yesterday reiterated its commitment to ameliorating the challenges encountered by applicants in obtaining the Nigerian passport through improved service delivery and streamlining of its operations.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who made the pledge during the inauguration of the Passport Front Office and Production Centre in Ilesa, Osun State, yesterday, said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) issued 1.8 million booklets in 2022, adding that moves are on to increase the number this year. Aregbesola noted that the surge in the number of applications necessitates the establishment of more passport front offices across the country.
He said: “In recent years, there has been an upsurge in passport demands by Nigerians. The first factor in this upsurge was COVID-19 which affected our production schedule due to restrictions on human movement.
This created a backlog that we were trying to clear when an unprecedented number of Nigerians now decided to travel outside the country and applied for the pass- port, thereby compounding the backlog challenge. “Then, of course, the panic buying syndrome kicked in. Many people who had no immediate need for the passport had then started applying, creating a deluge of applications.
Thankfully, that is behind us now. The back- logs have all been cleared and we are producing on schedule in all our centres. “Fresh applications will take six weeks after biometric data capture, while renewal requires just three weeks. “To respond to the challenge, we increased our production capacity.
In 2021, we produced one million booklets. Last year, we increased production to 1.8 million, nearly doubling our efforts. We shall keep working at it to ensure that we provide for as many Nigerians as they are desirous of the passport.”
Governor Ademola Adeleke commended Aregbesola for being a worthy ambassador of the state, reassuring him of the state’s support.