All passport backlogs will be cleared within two weeks – Interior minister
The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has said that all passport backlogs in Nigeria should be cleared within two weeks.
Tunji-Ojo said that there is no excuse for passport delays in Nigeria and that the scarcity and delay in issuing new passports and renewing old ones are fueling corruption in the sector.
The Minister made this announcement during an interview on Channels TV Politics Today programme on Tuesday.
He stated that after the backlogs are cleared, no Nigerian should have to wait more than two weeks for a passport.
“Clearing all backlogs shouldn’t take more than two weeks. After clearing these backlogs, no Nigerian should wait for more than two weeks,” Tunji-Ojo said.
The minister also noted that owning a green passport is a right of every Nigerian and not a privilege.
According to him, “It’s a right and not a privilege. Nigerians want that right to be actually theirs, not by somebody offering you your right.”
He added that it is not excusable for any Nigerian to be treated disrespectfully because of a passport application.
“What Nigerians want to see is solutions and that is what the President has constantly told us… No excuses.
“In line with the directive of Mr. President, it can no longer be business as usual. We have critically analysed all these scenarios, from the point of going online to fill out the form to the point of payment, to the point of picking a date, to the point of biometrics, to the point of issuance of passports. And we understand the service providers involved, and we have been able to see one or two things to put right.”
Tunji-Ojo stated that he is working with service providers and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to digitise and decentralise the process of issuing and renewing passports.
According to him, the collaboration will make it possible for people to apply for passports at post offices, financial institutions, and other locations.
“We have to digitise and we also have to decentralise the whole enrollment system and make it (possible) for people to walk into the nearest post office, people can walk into may be financial institutions; and some many other ways. We are still playing with so many ideas,” he added.