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Ambassador Lot Egopija, Consul General of Nigeria in New York, USA

FG working to advance passport application processing abroad, says envoy

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Nov. 19, 2023

The Consul-General of Nigeria in New York, Amb. Lot Egopija, has said that the Federal Government is working to boost the passport application processing system in the U.S. and other Nigerian missions abroad.

Egopija gave the assurance at a hybrid town hall meeting with the Nigerian community in New York and areas under the New York Jurisdiction. The meeting was held in Cleveland, Ohio.

The New York Jurisdiction comprises the 20 states of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Ohio and North Dakota.

Others are South Dakota, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Pennsylvania.

The North America correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was hosted by the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA), North East Ohio Chapter and Nigeria Community, Greater Cleveland.

Egopija, while answering questions on why the Consulate- General of Nigeria in New York still goes to Washington DC to produce passports in an era of technology, said the Federal Government was working to address the issue.

Some participants at the event wanted to know what the Federal Government was doing to embrace a system where Nigerians seeking passport renewal would not need to go to the missions for biometrics.

The Consul General said the government was aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians, especially in the U.S. on passport renewal.

According to him, the government is thinking of advancing the passport renewal system so that people will stop travelling far and taking risky and costly journeys.

“We are under pressure because America is quite big. Sometimes, it takes hours for our nationals within our jurisdiction to travel to New York.

“For instance, Minnesota to New York is close to 20 hours trip. So we don’t want our nationals to put themselves in harm’s way just because they want to renew their passports.’’

The envoy also gave an update on passports production, relationship with Nigerian associations and also provided information on emergency travel certificates as well as visa issues.

He said that the Consulate had created a WhatsApp platform, from where all leaders of Nigerian associations could access and pass timely information from the Consulate to their members.

“It was easier to post the information on the temporary suspension of passport services on the WhatsApp platform and the reason for that.’’

Egopija informed the gathering that the Consulate-General had not been processing biometrics for passport applicants since Nov. 13, due to server hitches.

He advised nationals to always check the website for any update on the issue before coming for their biometrics.

Egopija also welcomed suggestions on ways to improve consular services, urging his fellow compatriots to get more information on the Consulate’s website.

He said that information on some of the questions being asked had been provided on the website under the Frequently Asked Questions section.

The Consul-General commended the interest shown by the participants at the gathering, pledging to improve consular services for Nigerians.

“We don’t take your participation for granted. It’s a way of building relationships and that’s why the Consulate has embarked on this.

“This is our 11th (Town Hall meeting) in the series. I pray that we’ll continue this way.

“I want to thank Cleveland for giving us this warm reception.

We are more than happy and we look forward to having our next Town Hall meeting in February next year.

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