The President Bola Tinubu administration’s wind of change and renewed hope agenda is sweeping the Interior Ministry as its Minister, Mr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, announced on Wednesday that as from December this year, Nigerians will get their passports in two weeks.
Nigerians will also be saved from the pains of having to wait on the queue to upload the needed information to get passports issued to them, he said.
The minister announced this at a media briefing in Abuja where he disclosed that the ministry, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and other stakeholders had achieved clearance of 204,332 passports backlogs across the country within three weeks.
He said that registration will henceforth be done online and that only physical biometrics capture would be done at any passport office and the collection of issued passports.
According to Tunji-Ojo, the ministry will acquire the necessary equipment that will make this possible by December.
Quoting President Tinubu, the minister said: “Look I didn’t appoint you to that ministry to give excuses, go and change the narratives, especially of passports applications and collections. Nigerians have had enough of that problem.”
He said in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu, the Ministry of Interior, the NIS and other stakeholders aligned its “the talk and do” mantra.
Tunji-Ojo told journalists how the deadline he handed down on September 7 was delivered by the Immigration Service, adding that the personnel of NIS had to do three shifts each day including Saturdays and Sundays to deliver.
According to him, the service providers of the NIS were also made to put in more effort in their printing capacities and capabilities, especially in areas where passports backlogs were higher.
“Yes. I gave two weeks deadline. I however have to apologise to Nigerians that we delivered on it in three weeks. We had 204,332 Nigerians whose data had been captured. And we cannot continue to watch them waiting endlessly. I visited the headquarters of the Immigration Service and told them the narratives must change.
“So in critical frontline desks like Ikeja, Alausa, Ikoyi, Ibadan, Abuja, we ordered that more printing machines be brought in by the service providers. Then we increased the working hours of the personnel of NIS. They started running three shifts.
“Let me at this juncture commend the Acting Comptroller General of the Immigration Service, Mrs Wura-Ola Adepoju, especially for her positive responses to the pressures I mounted on her. I would call her late and demand updates, and she would provide updates. That was the spirit.”
Tunji-Ojo however revealed that so far, out of the 204,332 backlogs cleared, only 94,981 have been collected by the applicants, leaving 109,351 yet uncollected.
He regretted that for instance in Ikoyi Passports office, Lagos, 39,170 backlogs were cleared, only about 9,458 applicants have showed up to collect the booklets. And while 21,108 were cleared in Alausa, a huge number of applicants are yet to show up to collect the documents.
“To sustain the momentum, the ministry would embark on some reforms with the NIS, adding that by December this year, Nigerians can upload all supporting documents including their passports online to the Immigration Service.
“The measures would reduce human interfaces and corrupt practices, while bureaucratic bottlenecks that have been dismantled would not resurface anymore.
“Applicants would only show up at Immigration offices for biometric capturing of data as it would reduce applications and collections of passports to two weeks,” the minister said.