The Federal Government on Monday inaugurated another Passport office in Alimosho, Lagos, as part of its strategy to make passport administration seamless for Nigerians.
A statement issued in Abuja by Mr. Sola Fasure, Media Adviser to Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the minister inaugurated the office.
Aregbesola said the aim was to ease the increasing pressure on the three existing Passport Control Offices in Lagos State.
The minister added that the Alimosho office was mainly for passport application, collection of biometric data, and eventual issuance, and not for passport production.
“We are also committed to expanding our passport issuance operations to bridge the gaps we face usually in urban centres like Lagos,” Aregbesola added.
He said that NIS was working hard and raising its capacity to cope with the high demand for passports in the country.
“Applications have been increasing every year at unprecedented rate due to the tendency of many Nigerians wanting to travel outside the country and those who want to use it as means of identification.
“Therefore, there is panic buying effect from those who wanted to obtain the passport because they heard some people who probably went through touts had difficulty obtaining theirs.
“But now, we have increased our capacity. In 2022, we produced 1.9 million passports, against the one million produced in 2021. This is about 80 per cent increase and it is unprecedented,” he said.
Aregbesola said that the government would work with private partners to provide spaces for more front offices in Lagos, to reduce passports application waiting period to one week.
“Due to funding challenges, the Federal Government may not be able to provide these desk offices; we will therefore need private partners that will provide the lounges.
“Their only involvement will be to provide the space. The offices will still be manned and operated by NIS personnel.
“We certainly need more of this in Lagos, because half of all passport applications are made in Lagos.
“We will need not less than 15 of these front offices in Lagos alone to be able to cut the application waiting period to one week.”
Aregbesola appealed to passport applicants to use the NIS portal and not touts and unscrupulous officials.
Earlier, the minister also inaugurated the NIS Command Headquarters in Ikoyi, Lagos.
“Since my appointment as minister, we have inaugurated 17 new command structures across the country for NIS, with the Lagos command being the 18th.
“The resolve of President Muhammad Buhari’s administration to ensure that our borders are further secured led to the creation of new and upgrading of Border Control Formations to full-fledged commands.”
In his remarks, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Isah Idris, said that the service would continue to render efficient service to Nigerians.
“The NIS will continue to render efficient and effective service to the public.
“I urge Nigerians to avail themselves of the numerous complaint mechanisms made available to our esteemed customers who for whatever reason is displeased with the services rendered.
“There are lots of publications, signage and sensitisation materials on the procedure of acquiring the Nigeria e-passport.
“Avail yourselves of these information targeted at reducing interference of anyone in the process of applying for the said facility. This is aimed at eliminating touting, extortion and other vices,” Jere said.
The C-G warned that the passport office remained a no-go-area for touts and racketeers, adding that the law would catch up with those who infringe passport issuance regulations.