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Passport: Backlogs Have Been Cleared – Aregbesola • Commissions NIS Ilesa Office

The Federal Government on Tuesday disclosed that it produced 1.8 million passport booklets in 2022 to meet the rising demands of Nigerians.

This is as it reiterated its commitment to ameliorating the challenges encountered by Nigerians in applying for and obtaining the Nigerian Passport, through improved service delivery and streamlining of its operations.

Speaking at the commissioning of the Ilesa Passport Front Office and Production Centre, of the Nigeria Immigration Service in Ilesa, Osun state, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said the government is also working assiduously to adequately address the growing number of Nigerians who need the passport for other purposes.

Aregbesola noted that the surge in the number of applications necessitates the establishment of more passport front offices across the country, which is born out of the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to further make the process seamless.

The Minister said: “In recent years, there has been an upsurge in passport demands by Nigerians. The first factor in this upsurge was the COVID-19 pandemic which affected our production schedule, due to restrictions on human movement. This created a backlog that we were trying to clear when an unprecedented number of Nigerians now decided to travel outside the country and applied for passports, thereby compounding the backlog challenge.

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“Then, of course, the panic buying syndrome kicked in. Many people who had no immediate need of passports then started applying, creating a deluge of applications. Thankfully, that is behind us now. The backlogs have all been cleared and we are producing on schedule in all our centres.

“Fresh application will take six weeks after biometric data capture, while renewal requires just three weeks. To respond to the challenge, we increased our production capacity. In 2021, we produced one million booklets. Last year, we increased production to 1.8 million, nearly doubling our efforts. We shall keep working at it to ensure that we provide for as many Nigerians as they are desirous of the passport.

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“The Passport Front Office we are commissioning today is one of the ways we are responding to increased demand for passports, especially to reduce the waiting time for biometric data capture. We have opened this front office in Alimosho, Katsina, Zaria, and Daura and in several Nigerian missions abroad in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, where the enhanced passport is being rolled out.

“This front desk is not an express centre. It is also not a full-fledged passport office like the ones in Osogbo, Ibadan or Akure. However, a front office is where applications will be made and biometric data of the applicant will be collected. It is a non-judgemental centre, meaning that no decision will be made here, but the application and biometric data of the applicants will be collected and forwarded to the NIS for processing and issuing.

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“We need as many centres as possible to accommodate the huge number of those applying every day, day and night, on our online platform, to reduce the waiting time before data capture to the barest minimum. Our target is to reduce the waiting period for biometric data capture to not more than one week, after application.”

Aregbesola further stressed that since his Inception at the Ministry, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has been repositioned especially in the engendering of a passport production system and process that is in compliance with global best practices in technology.

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