According to the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, improvements are underway to simplify the passport application process, with Nigerians potentially submitting online applications as early as December.
Tunji-Ojo noted on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday that one of the improvements the ministry is doing in passport management is to halt the “chaotic” passport application process.
“For me personally, I have said this to service providers; I said it today, I said it yesterday, and I have always told them, ‘You need to make life easy for people. We cannot, as a government, as a service, make things more difficult than they ought to be,’” he said.
“Part of the reforms that we are putting in place now, starting from December, is that even when you want to enrol for your passport, you fill your forms online, you do your payments online, and everything.”
The minister was replying to a query about international best practices for passport application and collection vs what exists in Nigeria, as well as ways to lessen Nigerians’ displeasure with the application process.
In comparison to the passport application process in other countries, the minister noted that just a biometric capture is required in person, and that all relevant details can be supplied via a Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) online.
“You do not need to go to the passport office to have your picture captured. People apply for American visas, people apply for UK visas, people apply all over the world. Your passport with the required specifications as directed by the NIS will be uploaded on the platform.
“You upload your passport online, you upload your supporting documents online, so when you go to the immigration office, you spend just like five minutes just to have your biometric captured; that’s all,” he said.
Tunji-Ojo stressed that the days of drawn-out enrollment procedures are long gone and unacceptable, adding that it is Nigerians’ right to experience a smooth procedure.
“The era of people sacrificing a whole day just because they want to go to a passport office for enrollment is over; it is unacceptable. You cannot inconvenience people based on their rights; it is the right of the people to have a seamless experience,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Minister revealed that 204,322 international passports are now available for collection, out of a backlog of over 300,000 that he encountered upon taking office.
Ojo made the revelation during a news conference in Abuja, revealing that just 99,901 of the total amount ready for collection had been collected.
Tunji-Ojo urged Nigerians to pick up their unclaimed passports, saying that the ministry was collaborating with the immigration agency and its suppliers to ensure that international passports be sent straight to Nigerians’ preferred addresses beginning next year.