The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has disclosed that plans have been concluded by Federal Government, through its Immigration Service (NIS) to begin deactivating 2,786 passports with unidentified addresses and location of holders.
Aside from deactivating passports with unidentified addresses, the minister noted that the government would also halt the issuance of passports to applicants with unverified addresses.
Aregbesola said that the move was in line with President Muhammdu Buhari-led’s administration to protect the country’s integrity such that would eliminate Nigeria being subjected to ridicule among the committee of nations.
According to him, the Federal Government is now more than ever before determined to ensure effective and efficient service delivery to all Nigerians at home, in the diaspora, and foreigners alike.
Speaking when he chaired the maiden edition of the quarterly performance review meeting of Service Providers engaged by the ministry and its agencies in Abuja, Aregbesola maintained that the lapses became obvious during the recent revalidation exercise conducted by the government.
He added that the review meetings availed the ministry the opportunity to evaluate the achievements and challenges of the service providers, vis-à-vis, its mandate, and thereby strategically help them to work better, efficiently, and fruitfully in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Aregbesola said that the focus of President Buhari’s administration was firmly fixed on the tripod of addressing insecurity in the country, fixing the economy, and tackling corruption.
“As you are all aware, the Ministry of Interior is saddled with the responsibility of maintaining internal security and citizenship integrity. In order to achieve the mandate of the Ministry, there is a need to put in place well-thought-out projects and programmes that will ensure effectiveness and efficiency toward improving internal security and determine where we are on the delivery of internal security and our other responsibilities,” he said.
Giving a breakdown of some key performance indices from service providers, the minister revealed that Iris Smart Technology Ltd stated that a total number of 1,487,000 Passports Booklets were delivered in 2020.
“Also, Greater Washington Xpress in charge of Passport Address Verification revealed that out of the 1,563,104 addresses verified within the period under review, they were unable to locate 2,786 addresses, which accounts for about 0.18% of the total number of addresses validated.
“Newworks Solution Limited, a service provider in the Visa Processing business with operations in 22 locations around the world revealed that despite the pandemic, it processed 84,948 visa applications in the period under review.
“Another Service Provider, Anchor Dataware Solutions revealed that a total of 23,552 Marriage Registration Applications were received, with a total number of 459 Place of Worship Registrations Received,” he said.
Upon the performance review, the minister charged the service provider, IRIS, to ensure they put in the right work in ensuring that passport production was not disrupted and scarcity eliminated and that Thebes should ensure that the Ease of Doing Business was not compromised while top-notch customer service is delivered.
“Henceforth, no person with an unverified address will be issued passport, more so address revalidation will be conducted periodically to protect the integrity of the Nigerian passport.
“Also, the Nigerian Immigration Service will deactivate all passports with unverified addresses,” the minister, who also former Osun State Governor said.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, commended the minister for the initiative designed to ensure continuous improvement in quality services delivered by service providers to both the Nigerian and International public.
Belgore urged all service providers to be proactive in their service deliveries and strive to focus on projects that would generate high returns on investment to boost the Nigerian Economy.
He also urged them to take full advantage of the knowledge-sharing session for speedy and successful delivery of the projects for the benefits of citizenship integrity and for the promotion of good governance in Nigeria.