FG issues 2.7 million passports in 2 years, says minister

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By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The federal government has issued 2.7 million passports in two years, Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, has said.The minister said at a briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team in Abuja on Thursday.He said the difficulties associated with the application and collection of passports would soon be a thing of the past.

“It is important to inform you that we have witnessed growing demand for the Nigerian passport both locally and by Nigerians in diaspora. A total of 2,742,207 passports of different categories were issued between 2019 to date.

“The year-on-year increasing growth rate is however putting a lot of pressure on the current processing structure and resources and further justifies the need for a reform in the passport application and processing system in line with the current reality.“The Ministry is aware of the challenges faced by applicants for processing and reissue of passports. I want to use this unique opportunity to assure Nigerians that the current experience will soon be a thing of the past. New production and capture centres will be opened in the next few weeks to ease access by Nigerians all over the world.

“I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the Ministry has taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortages of the e-passport booklets. This year alone, the ministry approved a special deployment of over 600,000 passport booklets, the largest of its kind ever done, to cushion the effects of shortages being experienced,” he said.

On corruption, the Minister highlighted the recent sting operation carried out by the Acting Comptroller/General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr Isa Jere, at the Ikoyi passport office, stressing that many reforms such as appointment management system are taking place to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

“You may wish to recall the recent sting operation carried out by the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration. This is in line with the initiatives we have adopted to clean up the system of bad eggs.“To limit human interference and corruption, we are streamlining the whole passport application and production processes to increase efficiency.“In the coming days, a new and digital appointment management system will be launched to optimize the passport application experience for Nigerians, limit physical visits to passport offices and check the inconveniences that Nigerians suffer in booking appointments for biometric data capture,” he said.The minister also disclosed that 174,000 jobs have been created for Nigerians through the administration of Expatriate Quotas and Business Permits.

“Between 2019 and October 2021, over 87,000 expatriate quotas were granted, 951 business permits were granted and 598 licenses were issued to public places of worship for the conduct of statutory marriages.“In addition, 174,000 understudy jobs have been created through the expatriate quota administration system. We recently inaugurated a Ministerial Task Force on the Monitoring of Expatriate Quota.

“The primary objective is to audit, monitor and enforce the conditions for the approval of expatriate quota and foreign business permit. Nigerians may wish to note that one of the conditions for the approval of Expatriate Quota is that for every expatriate position, the company must employ two Nigerians to understudy the expatriate,” he said.