Minister: Nigerian Immigration Service Successfully Clears 200,000 Passport Backlog, Aims to Process New Applications Within Two Weeks

Early in September, the minister vowed to sort the existing backlogs of about 204,000 in two weeks.The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has set a target of two weeks for processing passport applications.

Nigerians face difficulties obtaining international passports at the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) offices across the country.

Early in September, the minister promised to clear the backlogs of around 204,000 within two weeks.

However, speaking at a media parley in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr Tunji-ojo apologized that the backlog clearance had taken three weeks instead of the two-week deadline he initially gave.

Nevertheless, the minister commended the efforts of NIS officers and personnel who worked day and night, including weekends and holidays, to meet his directive.

He emphasized that while obtaining visas is a privilege, acquiring international passports is a right.

He also expressed President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to not increasing the cost of passport applications despite foreign exchange volatility.

He said: “We inherited 204,332 enrolments without passports being issued. People had applied and been captured. That was the figure, and we were given a deadline by the president to find solutions and relief for Nigerians.

“We held strategic meetings with the NIS and, with the support of our service providers, we were able to increase the number of printing machines from two to four in passport offices. Our service providers provided the machines at no cost.

“NIS personnel worked in three shifts, 24/7, to clear the backlogs and ensure that we never have passport production backlogs again.

“We want to ensure that nobody waits more than two weeks to get their passports.”

The minister announced that as of October 1st, all 204,332 backlogs had been cleared.

“According to the records produced by NIS, 91,981 passports have already been collected. There are 112,351 passports available for collection,” he stated.

He urged Nigerians who have applied for passports to visit immigration offices to collect them.

New development

The minister also announced that in the coming months, passport applicants will be able to upload their passport photographs via the immigration portal, eliminating the need to visit passport offices for capturing.

Applicants will only need to visit passport offices for biometrics enrolment.

“Hopefully by December, people will not need to go to passport offices to take pictures. This is 2023. People will be able to upload their passport photographs online with specifications. When you apply for a visa, you do that, and we are progressing in that direction,” he stated.

“Furthermore, supporting documents should be uploaded online, so when you visit the passport office, it will only be for biometrics, and you can leave within five minutes.

“We want to avoid a situation where people spend the whole day at passport offices. Instead of offices capturing only 400 people a day, they will be able to accommodate more individuals.

“These are some of the innovations we are introducing. Despite the exchange rate situation, we will not increase passport fees. President Tinubu’s government understands the needs of the people. Personally, I don’t want anyone to spend more than 10 minutes at a passport office.”

Raising complaints

Meanwhile, Mr Tunji-ojo urged Nigerians not to pay bribes for their passports. He also provided contact information to report complaints.

“We implore Nigerians to please collect their passports and not give money to anyone. If you have completed your capturing at a passport office and they fail to give you your passport, please report your complaints via the following channels: 0802 375 3414 (preferably SMS and Whatsapp) or email aa-ajiboye@yahoo.com

He assured that the actions of a few NIS officers should not tarnish the work of the majority of dedicated officers.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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