Isa Idris, acting comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), says the delay in passport processing as a result of booklet scarcity will be over by March.
Speaking on Saturday during a media interaction, he blamed the challenge of delayed passport production on the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying global lockdown, and also the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange in the country.
According to him, part of efforts put in place to address the delay is the launch of the enhanced e-passport, which he noted has improved features.
“Just Friday, we received a total of 45,000 booklets towards clearing the backlog and in December alone, we received more than 100,000 booklets which we have continued to distribute across the passport centres nationwide. This is not just for Nigerians in Nigeria alone but for those in the Diaspora as well,” Idris said
“But with the introduction of the enhanced e-passport, we are good to go in our efforts towards addressing the scarcity. This enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology which we adopted as a country in 2007.
“It is a strategic step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of fraud associated with obtaining travel documents under the old machine readable passport regime.
“And because we know that technology helps to address some of our challenges, including corruption, we have continued to try to stop personal contacts with our officials. My predecessor started to break the jinx and we are continuing on that. We plead with applicants to apply only online and stop physical contacts with our officers to avert corrupt practices.”
Idris also cautioned the public to avoid last-minute applications.
“Next week, more booklets will be received towards clearing the backlog. Stop engaging in last-minute application rush for either renewal or fresh application for international passports. Applicants for renewal can apply for it six months to the expiration of their passports,” he said.
“The service is working hard to ensure full compliance with the three-week duration for renewal and six-week waiting period for fresh applications.
“The waiting period is for us to validate the addresses provided by the applicants. So, Nigerians should not forget that they have six months to renew their passports. They should not wait till it expires, and of course, if there are other emergencies, and there is a window for them.”