By G9ija

The Federal Government says the stress associated with the application and collection of passports will soon be a thing of the past as 2.7 million passports have been issued in two years.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated this at the weekly State House Press Briefing on Thursday in Abuja on the achievements so far recorded under his ministry.

He said, “It is important to inform you that we have witnessed growing demand for the Nigerian passport both locally and by Nigerians in diaspora.

“A total of 2,742,207 passports of different categories were issued between 2019 to date.

“The year-on-year increasing growth rate is however putting a lot of pressure on the current processing structure and resources and further justifies the need for a reform in the passport application and processing system in line with the current reality.”

The minister revealed that the ministry was aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians in securing their passports, but noted that “effort is being put in place to make it a thing of the past.

“The ministry is aware of the challenges faced by applicants for processing and reissue of passports.

“I want to use this unique opportunity to assure Nigerians that the current experience will soon be a thing of the past.

“New production and capture centres will be opened in the next few weeks to ease access by Nigerians all over the world.

“I am pleased to inform Nigerians that the Ministry has taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortages of the e-passport booklets.

“This year alone, the ministry approved a special deployment of over 600,000 passport booklets, the largest of its kind ever done, to cushion the effects of shortages being experienced.”

On ministry’s efforts to fight corrupt practices in the system, the minister highlighted the recent sting operation carried out by the Ag. Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), DCG Isa Jere, at the Ikoyi Passport Office in which some officers were exposed.

According to him, many reforms such as a new appointment management system, amongst others are taking place to reduce corruption to the barest minimum.

“You may wish to recall the recent sting operation carried out by the Acting Comptroller General of Immigration.

“This is in line with the initiatives we have adopted to clean up the system of bad eggs.

“To limit human interference and corruption, we are streamlining the whole passport application and production processes to increase efficiency.

“In the coming days, a new and digital appointment management system will be launched to optimise the passport application experience for Nigerians,

“Limit physical visits to passport offices and check the inconveniences that Nigerians suffer in booking appointments for biometric data capture,” the minister stated.