The Federal Government has established a new two-week timeline for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to process and issue international passports to eligible applicants.
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, made this announcement on Wednesday in Abuja during a press briefing to update Nigerians on the state of passport backlogs in the country.
He stated that no Nigerian would have to wait for more than two weeks to get an international passport from now on.
Tunji-Ojo disclosed that the Federal Government was in the process of reviewing the visa and passport policies, emphasizing that visa policies must be based on reciprocity. A committee has been set up to advise the government appropriately in this regard.
According to the Minister, the Nigeria Immigration Service has cleared all 204,332 passport application backlogs as of October 1, 2023, and has urged Nigerians to go and collect their passports without any additional charges.
Tunji-Ojo revealed that 91,281 passports have been collected so far out of the 204,332 backlogs that have been cleared by the Immigration Service.
While appealing to Nigerians to visit the passport offices to collect their documents, the Minister noted that NIS personnel had worked tirelessly and in shifts to ensure that passport backlogs were cleared within three weeks from the date he gave the service a marching order.
“No one will ever wait for two weeks to get passports again. If you apply and have been captured, you will get your passport within two weeks,” he assured.
The minister had set a two-week deadline for the NIS on September 7 to clear all passport application backlogs.
“The immigration service operated in three shifts to ensure that we cleared the backlogs and to ensure that never again in the history of Nigeria will we have a backlog. This is not a temporary relief but a permanent solution,” the minister stated.
He mentioned that NIS and its partners would upgrade their systems to improve their services, and applicants would not be required to go to passport offices for capture starting in December 2023.
He threatened to terminate the contract of the service provider if it fails to activate the contract agreement, including the Advanced Passenger Information Service aspect, which Tunji-Ojo said would help in profiling those coming into the country, enhancing border security.
He added that the Ministry had given the service provider up to January 2024 to ensure this came on board, especially now that the country is facing security challenges.
“The efficiency of the Immigration service will not be sacrificed for any other interest apart from the interest of Nigerians, and all the ministry contractors who fail to activate their contract agreements will be shown the way out.
“People will be able to upload their passport and supporting documents online. Only biometrics will be taken at the passport office.
“We are introducing passport front offices where people can go and process their passport close to where they reside. Solution providers have been given three months to activate this, or their contract will be revoked,” the minister said.
The Minister mentioned another reform coming on board, passport tracking, where applicants, using their phones, should be able to track the processing of their passports from application to issuance date. He emphasized that these measures would help speed up the passport application process.
While urging Nigerians not to bribe any officials for passports, Tunji-Ojo stated that they should report such incidents to the Ministry of Interior via 08023753414 and email@example.com when asked for a bribe at any passport office within the country.
On the review of visa and passport policy, the Minister expressed discomfort with the visa-on-arrival policy, stating that this would be looked into.