The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has explained why there is always some delays in the processing of passport for many Nigerians.
Daily Trust reports that the acting comptroller general of NIS, Isa Idris, had blamed the delay in the passport production on two different issues.
The NIS said since the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a lot of changes and challenges in the production of passports coupled with other issues.
Idris said the scarcity of passport booklets is currently being addressed by the Federal Government through the recent launch of the enhanced e-passport.
Some of the challenges listed by the CG of the NIS are
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1. COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic
According to Idris, the COVID-19 pandemic that paved way for a lockdown made the production of passports quite difficult.
This Day reports that Idris said the NIS had received 45,000 booklets to enable it clear the backlogs of demands facing the service.
Idris said in December alone, the NIS received more than 100,000 booklets which the service has continued to distribute across the passport centres nationwide.
"This is not just for Nigerians in Nigeria alone but for those in the Diaspora as well."
2 Accessing foreign exchange
The CG of the NIS noted it has become so difficult for the service to access foreign exchange since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Idris said with poor or no access to foreign exchange, passport production appears to be a mirage for the service.
3. Fraud and corruption
Idris also noted corruption among NIS staffers has continued to fuel delays in the production of passports across the country.
He said there are expectations that technology would help address some of these challenges as well as ensure Nigerians who need their passports process have less contact with NIS officials.
"My predecessor started to break the jinx and we are continuing on that. We plead with applicants to apply only online and stop physical contacts with our officers to avert corrupt practices."
Speaking further, Idris assured that the immigration service would ensure that the challenges would be over by March 2022.
He also said that the NIS is working to comply with the three-week duration for passport renewal and the six-week waiting period for fresh applications.
Passport Office Introduces Saturday, Sunday Services
Amid the rising demand for passport applications, the Ikeja branch of the Nigeria Immigration Service has kicked off Saturdays and Sundays operations.
Rose Bukar, a passport control officer of the NIS said the decision was taken to speed up service delivery to applicants.
According to Bukar, the immigration service aims to spend less time processing fresh passport applications.
Federal Government Announces New Payment Method for Passport Application
The federal government has advised citizens against patronising fraudulent officials when processing their documents.
Rauf Aregbesola, the minister of interior, on Monday, December 20, who made this known also disclosed the new features of the e-passport.
The minister also tasked officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service and others to be on high alert for miscreants who want to test the will of the Buhari-led government.