The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has stated that Nigerian passports would be issued in each of the 774 local government areas in the country to reduce the problem of getting it.
The minister, in a statement on Sunday, also promised that applicants will soon begin to get passports within 24 hours.
The former governor of Osun State said this at the newly inaugurated Maitama Passport Express Centre.
He explained that the Nigeria Immigration Service Passport Express Centre, Maitama Abuja was established in partnership with the private sector to make passport Issuance more convenient and quick.
Aregbesola stated that the opening of the centre, which signified the inauguration of the Passport Issuance decentralisation policy of the administration, was the first of many more to be established in every local government area in Nigeria and designed to offer specialized services to Nigerians.
Aregbesola said, “MPEC is in response to the yearnings of the general public for the Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service to devise additional ways that the passport Issuance process can be less stressful and more efficient. It is the future. The goal is to have a facility like this in every local government in the country.
“Every Nigerian has the right to a Nigerian passport and it is our responsibility to put it in the hands of anyone desirous of it within the shortest possible time, without stress. The passport should be available in maximum of 72 hours of a successful application. Where there are issues, the applicant must be notified within 48 hours.
“The commencement of the operations of this world-class facility will not only offer Nigerians services of convenience and pleasure by taking away the hitherto stress in the conventional passport offices, it will also afford Nigerians the opportunity of getting their passports within 24 hours, at the high premium service and 72 hours at the ordinary premium service, albeit with added value and a little bit of extra cost.”
The Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said the inauguration of the express centre was a step towards solving the problems associated with passport administration.
Babandede also said the MPEC was established to provide expedite and guaranteed service for applicants willing to pay a premium for prompt and convenient service.
“The centre will be non-judgmental and has provision for large comfortable VIP lounge, refreshment, queue management system and other necessary facilities to ensure comfort and speedy delivery of quality service.
“This centre will have a dedicated National Identity Number (NIN), registration unit and cater to the complete passport issuance process from enrolment to production for only fresh and re-issue passport applications.
“Other categories of passport applications including change of data, replacement of damaged, lost/stolen passport and others shall continue to be processed at the service headquarters and other approved passport issuing authorities,” he added.
The NIS boss said line with its statutory mandate, NIS last week posted out the entire staff of Amana Passport Office for negligence and complexity in passport administration.
He added that many of its officers were dismissed, deranked and some are facing disciplinary procedures for corrupt practices and loss of passport booklets.
Managing Director, IRIS Smart Technologies Limited, Olayinka Fisher who conducted a tour of the centre’s facilities stated that the company has not taken over the job of Immigration, but will be providing all the facilities, quality ambience and other premium value added service to fast track the passport issuance process.