Immigration Produced More Than 1.8m Passports In 2022 –Aregbesola
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, yesterday, said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in 2022 issued 1,899,68 passports, the highest in over seven years
Responding to questions at the 64th edition of the State House briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team, Aregbesola said the figure was a landmark achievement. He rated the Ministry of Interior and its agencies as having scored above 80 percent in terms of performance.
Aregbesola also said the massive exodus of Nigerians out of the country in search of greener pastures was fuelling demands for passports.
“In the annals of Nigeria that has not happened before; as I am talking to you, we have more than 200,000 booklets in our store.
“We are not denying the fact that there are human-induced challenges if you look at the number of applications, vis-a-vis the number of passports produced.
“We are above 80 per cent in performance; in any way, take it as given that we produced more than 1.7 million passports in 2022,’’ Aregbesola said.
The minister said a presidential directive had been issued with regard to the domestication of passport production.
He said the Ministry of Interior, in collaboration with the NIS, had empanelled a ‘project steering committee’ with a mandate to actualize the goal.
Aregbesola also said there was a major reformation and digitization of passport issuance and administration as a temporary electronic passport had been introduced.
“We are digitising the process; my plan was to fully digitise the Ikoyi Registry in Lagos by December 2022 but I could not fully achieve that.
“What does that mean? When this process is concluded, an applicant does not need to bring anything anymore; you complete your process online and by that time, you don’t need an agent.
“There can’t be racketeering. I am on it and I want to guarantee that we will do it before we leave.
“We have also concluded arrangements on the temporary passport issue; we have the passport, but we have some issues with our sister ministry – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are solving it,’’ he said.
According to the minister, the temporary passport will facilitate a return to Nigeria for Nigerians living abroad if they need to get back in emergencies and did not have current passports.
The minister said: “Much as that won’t be a problem to us to take at our reception desk, some airlines could be difficult.
“I can even tell you that we are discussing with South Africa now; South Africa does not allow the use of expired passports as a nation contrary to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulation.
“ICAO says every citizen of a nation dead or alive cannot be denied entry to his home; which is logical anyway.
“The last time I treated a file from South Africa through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they were insisting if one’s passport is not current, one cannot be taken in or out of South Africa’s space.
“It is their policy; you cannot deny a nation its national policies and programmes.
“To avoid that, we introduced what is called temporary electronic passport; it is a one-way passport to return home,’’ Aregbesola explained.
He said that under the temporary passport regime, citizens who had the data pages of their expired passports could take them to Nigeria’s embassies to get the temporary electronic passport after paying the appropriate fees.
“The temporary electronic passports are almost exactly the same as their expired passports.
“It does not have more than one page to take you home; when you hold the electronic passport, you cannot go anywhere but home.
“We are still in negotiation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’’ Aregbesola said.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Shuaib Belgore, disclosed at least 159 Nigerians renounced their citizenships in 2022 alone while 150 Nigerians were between 2006 and 2021.
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