The Acting Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Isa Idris, has said the backlog and the scarcity of Nigerian passports will end by March.
He told the media in a virtual session that part of the measures of clearings backlog and curbing scarcity was the introduction of enhanced e-passports.
Idris also said the difficulties being experienced by some in either renewing their international passports or securing new ones will be resolved as measures have been put in place to ensure their availability.
He said that the challenge of delayed passports production was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying global lockdowns, including difficulty in accessing foreign exchange.
“Just on Friday, we received a total of 45,000 booklets towards clearing the backlogs and in December alone, we received more than 100,000 booklets which we have 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 and with the introduction of the enhanced e-passport, we are good to go in our efforts towards addressing the scarcity.
‘’This enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology which we adopted as a country in 2007.
“It is a strategic step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of fraud associated with obtaining travel documents under the old Machine Readable Passport regime,’’ he said.
According to him, technology helps to address some of the challenges, including corruption and NIS has continued to stop personal contacts with our officials.
Idris also said more booklets would be received soon towards clearing the backlogs.
He appealed to Nigerians to understand the service and stop engaging in last-minute application rush, saying applicants for renewal can apply for it six months to the expiration of their passports.
According to him, the service is working hard to ensure full compliance with the three-week duration for renewal and six-week waiting period for fresh applications.
He said that the waiting period was to validate the addresses provided by the applicants.
Idris also said that there was nowhere in the world where passports would be produced in 24 hours except in emergency situations.
Idris highlighted poor funding as the challenge of the service.
He said that workers that were not motivated would find it hard not to engage in corrupt practices.
He, nonetheless, stated that the service “is committed to improving the welfare of his officers for improved productivity and efficiency”.
The Acting Comptroller-General pleaded with Nigerians and, particularly the media, to support and cooperate with the service.
He announced that there “are dedicated channels for complaints about the officers’ conducts and the services of the organisation.”