Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, says the service moved the timeline of re-issuance of passport documentation from 74 hours to three weeks to reduce interface between officers and passport seekers.
Babanded, while inaugurating the NIS renovated and equipped long room project in the Ikoyi passport office in Lagos, stated that the extension would enable the service to carry out perfect tracing to ensure only true Nigerians get the document.
He stated that the new passport regime would reduce corruption and improve the efficiency of officers.
According to him, “The waiting period was 74 hours but the minister wanted a waiting phase before the passports were issued.
“Let me give you one of the reforms carried out, we used to have a home address when the passports were issued but now we have added a permanent home address, this will help us identify true Nigerians.
“I work in Abuja and stay there, it is not my permanent address, most of us are not Lagosians, we are either in Lagos to do business or work for a company.
“In that situation, we can apply for a passport at Ikoyi or Alausa in Lagos. That does not show you as a true Nigerian.
“That is why we decided that apart from your home address, in addition, you add your permanent address so your family can be traced. We want to use that to trace applicants.”
He added that the new passport regime being championed by the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, would “reduce contact between officers and customers.”
Babandede added, “Why are we doing this? In order to discourage corruption. One of the ways to achieve this is to have a timeline.
“There are issues when people come to the passport office and request a passport immediately as express service but the money does not go into immigration coffers, it goes into private pockets, now we say if you want to fast track you have to pay.
“Secondly, we had to change the way payment can be made. Payment can be made to our website directly.
“Before, it was difficult to make payment to our website but now you can easily make payment, you can print your receipt and come.
“We have made it much easier that not everybody should come to the passport office so we don’t have a crowd.”