Federal Government says efforts at overcoming the challenges Nigerians encounter in obtaining passports are yielding the desired results.
FG also urged citizens to assist the reform process at the Nigeria Immigration Service by refusing to patronise corrupt officials who deliberately complicate the process.
A statement on Wednesday by Sola Fasure, said the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated this at the inauguration of the Front Desk Office in Oyo, Oyo State.
Aregbesola said the Oyo Passport Front Office is part of the long-term initiatives to make the process of data capturing, production and collection which are critical areas of the passport process easier, all in a bid to address the growing concerns of Nigerians.
The Minister said the NIS had continued to meet up despite the increasing demand for the citizenship-affirming document, while maintaining the highest standard and quality.
The statement read, “The demand for passports by Nigerians has skyrocketed in the past three years. Nigeria has a growing population. This means that in the past 30 years, more people are being born than are dying. More people have therefore grown to the age they will need a passport to travel outside the country, for identification and for other purposes.
“All these shot up demand, more than our production capacity. But thankfully, we have addressed the challenge successfully and cleared the arrears. We are now producing on the schedule of six weeks after biometric data enrollment for fresh applications and three weeks for renewal.
“But we still have the challenge of the waiting period between application and biometric data capture. Depending on the location, sometimes, the waiting period can take up to two months. This is because there is a limit to the number of applicants that the existing passport offices can attend to in a day, making it impossible to attend quickly to all the applicants, and necessitating a long waiting period.
“A front desk is a facility for application completion and enrollment, where applicants will submit their biometric data. No judgement will be made here. But the application process will be completed and collated for processing and production. It is also where the applicant will collect the passport when it is ready.
“In spite of the challenges we faced, last year (2022) alone, we produced 1.9 million passports, against the 1 million produced in 2021. This is about 80 per cent increase and it is unprecedented.
“The reform introduced to the NIS led to the Automated Passport issuance process which has eliminated touts and racketeers in Passport administration, the introduction of E-border Management, MIDAS and the commencement of E-Passport across Passport Control Offices and Diplomatic Missions.”