The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has given the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) two weeks to clear the over 200,000 pending passport applications before it.
The minister gave the order during a meeting with the Acting Comptroller-General of NIS, Caroline Adepoju, on Thursday in Abuja.
The meeting was also attended by the Managing-Director, Iris Smart Technologies, Mr Yinka Fisher, the company in charge of the production of Nigerian passport booklets.
The minister said that the order was in fulfillment of his promise to remove all bottlenecks in the acquisition of Nigerian passport and other immigration documents.
“Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria has been a source of frustration for citizens, causing significant delays in obtaining crucial travel documents.
“Having to deal with about 200,000 backlogs calls for national emergency.
“As far as I am concerned, the issue of passport is a national emergency; I keep getting emails daily from Nigerians complaining. We cannot continue like this.
“It has become an embarrassment to President Bola 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.”
Tunji-Ojo said that he received updates on passport enrolments on a daily basis.
“I get daily report 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 stressed.
In their remarks, Adepoju and Fisher, assured the minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to clear the backlog of passport applications.
Adepoju disclosed that though the number of enrolment as of Thursday morning spills into 200,000 across the country, the NIS has secured enough booklets to clear the backlog.
Meanwhile, the Minister has held strategic meeting with the Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service (FFS), Abdulganiyu Jaji, that of Nigeria Correctional Service (NCOs), Haliru Nababa, and the Commandant-General, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi.
He directed them to within four weeks, come up with a practical and executable roadmap that entails timelines, approaches, deliverables, and methodology.(NAN)