Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo, has said that the Ministry of Interior has put plans in place, and is working with several agencies abroad to ensure that several passport offices are opened around the country, as well as abroad, to ensure a seamless passport collection process for Nigerians at home and in diaspora.
Tunji-Ojo, who made the above statement while in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, also said that the creation of multiple offices will make for an easier process of passport requests and collections, which will reduce the demand of passports, and will in turn, reduce the corruption in which people exploit Nigerians in order to get passports for them.
While the minister had earlier cleared the backlog of over 200,000 passports that had not been processed in Nigeria, Nigerians in diaspora had been lamenting the fact that their passport renewal and collection process has been slow.
In response to these complaints, Tunji-Ojo said, “On the issue of Nigerians in diaspora, we are working very hard on that. I will tell you the major problem. The major problem with diaspora is I will give you an example of Canada… Canada is the second biggest nation on earth in terms of land mass, only second to Russia. Now, Canada has only one passport office, that is unacceptable. And of course, government might not be able to afford creating passport offices all over and whatever, but we have to look at how to collaborate with private sector. And that is why we have said, by the grace of God, by February latest next year, that’s the date we have given, we will have passport offices all over the world.
He then explained how this process will reduce corruption in the system, saying, “For instance, in UK, if you are in Aberdeen, or you are in Dundee, or you are in Cardiff, or you are in Manchester, or in Birmingham, or you are in Hamptons, you have to come all the way to London for your passport. And because of that, once there is an over demand for something, corruption sets in, people try to take advantage. So, the best way to avoid corruption is to make these things available to people that at their doorstep.”
The minister then emphasized that this development will also happen within Nigeria as he said, “And it’s not just going to be in diaspora. I’ll give you an example, if you live in Lagos or you’re in Abuja, nothing stops you if you’re living in Lokogoma, you’re living in Wuse or in Maitama, why can’t you have a place that you can walk in for your capture and know that you’ll get these things at home? So, these are the thing’s we’re trying to do by creating front offices, but I can assure those that have been captured in the diaspora, we are working very hard to make sure that we solve these problems because we have lots of issues with regards to even getting dates for people because of the population vis-à-vis the facility.
“So, I can assure them that we’re working very hard. We have sorted the domestic issue, now, we are focused on the diaspora, and in the next two, three weeks, by the grace of God, we will make sure- I like to be held responsible for what I say,- we will make sure that those that have been captured get their passports between the next 2-3 weeks in diaspora, that’s one. And also, by February, we will make sure that there will be a seamless thing, we will take passport offices closer to them just for the purpose of biometric capture, and of course, they will not need to go to the embassy to be captured, they will not need to go to the embassy to collect their passport. As it is now, they will be able to sit in their homes and collect that.”
For the purpose of clarity and so that people are not conned of their money, Tunji -Ojo then said, “For the price, if it’s a five-year passport, which is about thirty-five pages, it is N35,000, that’s it. If it is a ten-year passport, which is about sixty-four pages, it is N70,000, that is the price. And I personally don’t understand why people will be using proxies at this point. Why I said so is that payment is online. You pay online, then you just go for capture.
“I understand the whole congestion in the whole process, maybe that’s why people were using proxies before now, but I want to plead with our people that this is what you can do on your own, and by December, even your documents, everything, even your passport picture will be uploaded online, the only thing is your fingerprint. Nobody will do your fingerprint in your absence. So please, do not pay to anybody. I want to specially plead, do not pay to anybody. It’s N75,000 and N30,000.”
He then said that he was proposing a policy for people below the age of 18 to have five-year passports issued to them, while people above the age of 18 have ten-year passports issued to them, as this will reduce workload and be more convenient for both Nigerians and the ministry of Interior. He said that it is an option that is still being worked on, as the ministry must work out their ability to supply the passports as well.