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Just in: FG to begin passport booklets production locally

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

As part of measures to address challenges often encountered by passport applicants, the Federal Government has disclosed that beginning from next month, June, booklets for Nigerian passports will be produced locally to reduce the time spent before issuance.

It also reiterated that all backlogs of undelivered passport requests would be fixed before May 31st, and said that the Electronic Temporary Passport launched last March had begun to yield the desired results globally for Nigerians.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed the plans at the maiden Diaspora Quarterly Lecture series organised by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) with theme: “Mobilizing Nigerians in the Diaspora for National Development”, which was attended by Minister for State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and Nigerians living abroad.

At the lecture series held virtually and anchored by Channels Television’s United Kingdom (UK) business correspondent, Juliana Olayinka, on Saturday, the minister said that the booklets were previously produced abroad but the government has decided to begin local production exercises.

Aregbesola noted that the decision was taken after coronavirus pandemic hit the world and restricted production as well as flight movement, resulting in the backlogs experienced in passport issuance within the country as well as at Nigeria Embassies and High Commissions across the world.

He noted that the local production exercise should possibly start within the sixth month of the year and that it would fast-track passport issuance, saying, the reason for backlogs was non-availability of passport booklets at the disposal of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

On the backlogs, Aregbesola said: “On or before May 31st, all backlogs of undelivered requests for passports will be totally met, unless such applications have a problem that cannot be addressed immediately.

“But before the deadline, the problematic application would be contacted, so that we know what’s wrong with the applications. Assuming there would be no problem, every successful application for a passport would be given a passport on or before May 31st,” he added.

Responding to complaints from participants on recapturing, the minister explained that the decision to mandate applicants renewing their passports to undergo fresh capturing exercise was to prevent impersonation before passport issuance.

Earlier, Dabiri-Erewa stressed that the lecture was designed to challenge participants’ intellect, minds, and hearts as discussants on the platform would be experts in their various fields of endeavours.

The chairman added that it would intellectually stimulate participants from their robust wealth of experience and, Knowledge as each lecture would address issues of mutual interest to Nigerians in the Diaspora and Nigeria.

“It is also an opportunity for the government through NiDCOM to engage, inform and educate the Nigerians in the Diaspora through leading an open discussion of issues that confront Nigerians in the Diaspora in relation to their existence in their host countries and their Contributions to National Development”.

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