The Acting Comptroller General of Immigration, Isa Idris, has called on Nigerians to cooperate with the organization in its attempt to clean up the system and improve service delivery, particularly in the area of the issuance of international passports.
Mr. Idris, in a short message to reporters over the weekend, said that in addition to reducing incidences of corruption, the new system “has also helped to improve productivity, reduce fuss and reduce excesses touts and some NIS officers”.
He said; “The integration of the online appointment system with the existing online payment system has restored order to the passport offices to a large extent, as applicants can now make a payment and choose the date and time appointment times that suit them, thereby reducing the time they would have spent at passport offices as each passport office has been allocated a daily appointment capacity that has been established, based on the needs of a analysis performed.
The Acting Comptroller General, however, condemned what he described as a “firefighter” approach by many Nigerians, who he noted usually wait until they need passports before handing them over. ask.
He said that since September 2021, when he resumed his duties as acting Comptroller General, his team has worked tirelessly to eliminate the backlog of unproduced passports. He said the backlogs were the result of the coronavirus pandemic, which he noted was halting movements around the world.
The immigration boss gave statistics of the backlog of passports he inherited and how many were produced in less than eight months of his administration.
According to Mr. Idris, in September 2021, there were 85,163 passport applications that had not yet been processed locally while this figure stood at 18,746 in the diaspora.
He said that due to the backlog, overcrowding and heckling was seen in the various offices of the organization, and the need for urgent implementation of the improved e-passport initiated by his predecessor.
Mr Idris said that as of April, arrears in Nigeria had been reduced to 33,625 while the overseas backlog now stood at 9,661.
He said; “It is pertinent to note that between January and April 2022, a total of 478,650 brochures were distributed across the world, and I can assure you that over 10,000 Nigerians have benefited from this initiative and it is still ongoing. .
“The immigration attachés have also been mandated to undertake similar interventions in their coverage areas with countries such as Canada, Italy, Spain and Israel participating in this initiative.
“Hungary and Romania have credibly participated in the migration crises resulting from the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. So we are progressing. »
Improved electronic passports
The acting CGIS said the launch of the enhanced ePassport in parts of the country and in the UK has gone a long way to easing the tension created by backlogs.
According to him, in the south-west and part of the north-central regions of the country, a total of 40,000 passports have been produced and that there is no backlog of passport applications from previous years in the center. .
He said: “The backlog of around 40,000 in the south west and part of the central north where the enhanced ePassport was rolled out in December 2021 has been cleared. The Southeast, which had around 27,000 before the rollout of the enhanced ePassport on March 3, 2022, is now cleared at around 75%.
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“The backlog in other centers in Nigeria has also improved with the provision of leaflets. As a result of the improvement, we have made the issue of customs clearance of aspiration a top priority by ensuring the supply of a large quantity of booklets as well as closely supervising the allocation of these booklets to the offices of the passports.
He said a number of task force teams have been set up and dispatched to various passport issuing offices with a mandate to ensure strict utilization and rapid clearance of the backlog.
He said that apart from the south east, south west and part of north central where the enhanced e-passport has been launched in the country, the next phase will be launched in the other parts of north central. , from the northwest. and South-South, before moving on to the Northeast region.
“In the Diaspora, the next phase of the enhanced ePassport will be rolled out in the United States, Canada and Europe,” he said.
The acting comptroller general said the challenges the agency is currently facing in the cleanup efforts relate to the link between the national identification number (NIN) and passport details. He said his office was working diligently with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure challenges are addressed as quickly as they evolve.
“Regarding the issues arising from the integration of the Nigerian Passport with the NIN, Ag. CGIS has made strenuous efforts in working with NIMC management to resolve these issues. However, we must recognize that the challenge of verifying the NIN before the passport is issued plays a major role in our passport production chain and most often explains the delays,” he said.
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