Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has given the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) two weeks to clear all the pending passport applications, stating that the delay is an embarrassment to President Tinubu.
Ojo gave the directive at a meeting with Caroline Adepoju, Acting Comptroller-General of Immigration in Abuja on Thursday, September 7. Yinka Fisher, managing director of Iris Smart Technologies, the company in charge of the production of Nigerian passport booklets also attended the meeting.
The Minister said he decided to give the directive in fulfilment of his promise to remove all bottlenecks in the acquisition of Nigerian passports and other immigration documents.
“Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria have 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 a 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. I get daily reports 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.”
Adepoju and Fisher assured the minister that all necessary resources and measures would be deployed to clear the backlog of passport applications.
Adepoju who revealed that the number of enrolments as of Thursday morning is now 200,000 across the country, said the NIS has secured enough booklets to clear the backlog.