The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, says reforms are underway to simplify the passport application process, with the possibility of Nigerians being able to begin submitting online applications as early as December.
Speaking on Channels Televion’s Politics Today on Wednesday, Tunji-Ojo stated that one of the reforms the ministry is implementing in passport management is to put an end to the “chaotic” passport application process.
“For me personally, I have said this to service providers; I said it today, I said it yesterday, and I have always told them, ‘You need to make life easy for people. We cannot, as a government, as a service, make things more difficult than they ought to be,’” he said.
“Part of the reforms that we are putting in place now, starting from December, is that even when you want to enroll for your passport, you fill your forms online, you do your payments online, and everything.”
The minister was responding to a question on international best practices for passport application and collection, compared to what is obtained in Nigeria, and avenues to reduce Nigerians’ frustration in the application process.
In comparison to the passport application process abroad, the minister stated that only a biometric capture needs to be done in person, explaining that all necessary details can be submitted via a Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) portal.
“You do not need to go to the passport office to have your picture captured. People apply for American visas, people apply for UK visas, and people apply all over the world. Your passport with the required specifications as directed by the NIS will be uploaded on the platform.
“You upload your passport online, you upload your supporting documents online, so when you go to the immigration office, you spend just like five minutes just to have your biometric captured; that’s all,” he said.
Tunji-Ojo stressed that the days of drawn-out enrollment procedures are long gone and unacceptable, adding that it is Nigerians’ right to experience a smooth procedure.
“The era of people sacrificing a whole day just because they want to go to a passport office for enrollment is over; it is unacceptable. You cannot inconvenience people based on their rights; it is the right of the people to have a seamless experience,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Minister announced that 204,322 international passports are now ready for collection out of the backlog of over 300,000 he met upon assumption of office.
Ojo made the disclosure during a press conference in Abuja, disclosing that only 99,901 had been collected out of the amount ready for collection.
Tunji-Ojo urged Nigerians to pick up their uncollected passports, revealing that the ministry was working with the immigration service and their vendors to ensure that from next year, international passports are delivered directly to the preferred address of Nigerians.