The Federal Government has launched another Passport Front Desk Office in Lagos State, as part of its strategy to make passport administration a seamless exercise for Nigerians.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who spoke at the commissioning of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Front Desk Office in Alimosho, Lagos State, on Monday, January 30, 2023, said that the development is aimed at easing the ever-increasing pressure on the three existing Passport Control Offices domiciled in Lagos.
A statement by Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, quoted the Minister as saying: “We are also committed to expanding our Passport Issuance operations to bridge the shortage gap we face usually in urban centres like Lagos. It is this need that gave birth to the Alimosho Front Desk Office to ease the ever-increasing pressure on the three existing Passport Control Offices domiciled in Lagos.
Aregbesola revealed that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) is working hard and increasing its capacity to cope with the high demand for Passports, in spite of the challenges faced.
“Applications have been increasing every year at unprecedented rate, due to the tendency of many Nigerians wanting to travel outside the country and those who want to use it as means of identification.
Then there is ‘panic buying’ effect from those who want to obtain the passport because they heard some people (who probably went through touts) had difficulty obtaining theirs.
“But we have increased our capacity. Last year (2022), we produced 1.9 million passports, against the 1 million produced in 2021. This is about 80 per cent increase and it is unprecedented.
The Interior Minister however explained that the Alimosho-office is mainly for passport application and collection of biometric data, and eventual issuance, and not for passport production.
Ogbeni Aregbesola also stressed the inevitability of the emergence of private partners to provide spaces for more front offices in Lagos, due to the funding challenge faced by the government, as this will reduce the application waiting period to one week.
“But due to funding challenge, the government may not be able to provide these desk offices. We will therefore need private partners that will provide the lounge. Their only involvement will be to provide the space. The offices will still be manned and operated by NIS personnel.
“We certainly need more of this in Lagos. This is because half of all passport applications are made in Lagos. We will therefore need not less than 15 of these front offices in Lagos alone, to be able to cut the application waiting period to one week.
Aregbesola further appealed to applicants to apply by themselves on the NIS portal and not patronise touts and unscrupulous officials.
Earlier today, the Minister of Interior commissioned the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Command Headquarters for Lagos at Ikoyi.
He revealed that the Commissioning of the command is one of the innumerable developmental strides the Ministry of Interior has undertaken in recent time, under the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration.
“Since my appointment as Minister, we have commissioned 17 new Command structures across the country for the NIS, with the Lagos Command being the 18th. The resolve of President Muhammad Buhari’s Administration to ensure that our borders are further secured has led to the creation of new and upgrading of Border Control Formations to full-fledged Commands,” he said.
In his own speech, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Jere Idris, promised that the Service will continue to render quality and efficient service to Nigerians in need of its service.
“The NIS will continue to render efficient and effective service delivery to the public and I urge all to avail themselves of the numerous complaints mechanisms made available to our esteemed customers who for whatever reason(s) are displeased with the services rendered.
“There are lots of publications, signage and sensitization materials on the procedure of acquiring the Nigeria e-passport. Avail yourselves of these information targeted at reducing interference of anyone in the process of applying for the said facility. This is aimed at eliminating touting, extortion and other vices,” CG Jere noted.
Continuing, the CG warned that the Passport Office remains a no-go-area for passport touts and racketeers. Stating that the long arm of the law will catch up will those who infringe on these regulations.
“The Passport Office remains a no-go-area for touts, passport racketeers, fake breeder documents harvesters and all sorts of undesirable elements. I wish to warn that the long arm of the law and its full force will be visited on any person who by an act of commission or omission infringes on the Passport Offences as stipulated in Section 10(1a-h) of the Immigration Act, 2015”, the CG stated.