The Federal Government on Thursday has ordered the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), to clear all backlog passport applications in two weeks.
Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, gave the directive during a meeting with the Acting Comptroller General, Adepoju Carol, the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technologies, a third-party company in charge of the production of passport booklets, and other top government officials, in Abuja on Thursday.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant on Media to the minister, Babatunde Alao, said the ultimatum came in line with Dr Tunji-Ojo’s earlier charge to the agency to remove “bottlenecks in the acquisition of passports and other immigration documents” and his assurance to Nigerians to ease their difficulty accessing the document.
“As I am concerned, the issue of passports is a national emergency. I keep getting emails daily from Nigerians complaining. We cannot continue like that.
“It has become an embarrassment to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I represent him here as your minister. That embarrassment is mine now. I am not changing my words. I need the backlog cleared in two weeks.
“I get daily reports on enrolment from NIS on my phone. This is my best way to be in the know of the situation. Nigerians deserve the best. It is their right to own a passport if they can afford it.
“We will also ensure that our debts are cleared by November. My position remains that the delay in the process of obtaining the passport must end”, he said.
On her part, Acting Comptroller General, NIS, Adepoju Carol, assured the Minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to expedite the processing of these pending passport applications.
She said that although the number of enrolments as of Thursday morning spills into 200,000 across the country, the agency has been able to secure enough booklets to clear the backlog.
Similarly, the Minister held a strategic meeting with the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, (FFS), Abdulganiyu Jaji; the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, (NCoS) Haliru Nababa; the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi.
He gave directives to the agencies to present a practical and executable roadmap that entails timelines, approaches, deliverables, and methodology.
The directive, according to the Minister, must be fulfilled within a four-week timeframe.