The anticipated automation of the passport application process, according to Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, will commence “within the next one week.”
Tunji-Ojo first assured Nigerians in an October 4 interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today that the feature will be available in December.
In a follow-up appearance on Tuesday’s episode, he indicated that the technology was “99 percent complete.”
“In fact, we’ve done the testing and we should be going live in the next one week or thereabout. As I said, that will ensure that Nigerians, all they need to do in an immigration centre, a passport centre, is just biometrics, just to take your fingerprints, that’s all,” he said.
Tunji-Ojo responded, “Of course!” when asked if Nigerian nationals would be allowed to finish their applications from the comfort of their own homes.
This would require uploading passport images and supporting paperwork, according to him.
“We have gone beyond that. In fact, we’ve gone through it. We would have gone live about two weeks ago but I saw some errors when they came to do a presentation and I said, ‘You know this cannot be this,” he said.
“We’re talking about balancing national security as well as convenience. There must be a middle point. You cannot bring discomfort on the basis of enhancement of security. You must find a meeting point of both security and comfort.”
The minister also restated his promise that by February 2024, all Nigerian international airports would have e-gates.
“Once you’re Nigerian and you’re coming to Nigeria, you will have no business seeing an immigration officer, except if you’re a person of interest,” he said.