COMPTROLLER General, Nigeria Immigration Service(NIS), Muhammad Babandede has said that the service has moved the timeline of re-issuance of passport documentation from 74hours to three weeks as part of efforts to ensure efficiency, reduce interface between officers and passport seekers as well as carry out perfect tracing to ensure only true Nigerians get the document.
He disclosed his views to reporters yesterday after inaugurating a new facility for the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) built by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) and a new building for Access Bank at the Passport Office Ikoyi.
The fully renovated public long room was also equipped with queue management system technology, six units of large-screen televisions and fully installed satellite television, fourteen (14) units of air conditioning systems comprising two standing and twelve (12) split units, four desktop computers, and office tables and chairs.
SNEPCo received appreciation from CGI, urging other companies to emulate their gestures, as they were contributing their quota to make Nigerians comfortable while getting top-notch service.
Although he charged his men to ensure maintenance of the facilities was top of their minds, maintaining a culture of maintenance has always been difficult in the country, and its cycle must be broken.
Asked about the reason for the extended re-issuance timeline, Babandede said this had a lot to do with making the process fully transparent and eliminating contact between the servicemen and the customers to prevent any form of corruption.
In his words: There was a 74-hour waiting period, but the minister wanted a waiting phase before the passports were issued. One of the reforms carried out was the addition of a permanent home address to the passport. This will help us identify true Nigerians.
“I work in Abuja and stay there; that is not my permanent residence. Most of us are not living in Lagos permanently. We are either doing business in Lagos or working for a firm here. If that is the case, we can apply for a passport at Alausa or Ikoyi in Lagos. That doesn’t show you as a true Nigerian, so we decided that you would also include your permanent address in addition to your home address so your family can be traced. This will allow us to track applicants.
“For 74 hours, we are not keeping the 74 hours, and that is why we are rushing it to keep it. It is common for countries worldwide to have timelines that are longer than one week. So, in this case, we need a system that distributes passports efficiently while maintaining a high level of security.
Babandede described how the new passport regime could reduce corruption by reducing contact between officials and customers. “What can we gain by this?” he asked. To discourage corruption.
“One of the ways to achieve this is to have the timeline. There are issues with people coming to the passport office and request passports immediately as express service, but the money does not go into immigration coffers; it goes into private pockets. Now we say if you want to fast track, you have to pay.
“Secondly, we had to change the way payment can be made, payment can be made to our website directly. Before it
wasn’t making easy payment to our website, but now you can easily make payment, you can print your receipt and come. We have made it much easier than not every body should come to passport office so we have a crowd there is booking online and each passport office has a number it can carry by day, once that number is exhausted it moves over to the next day, so we are doing everything we can to make things easier We are trying to emulate the private sector because the private sector works more efficiently. If you work like the private sector, you don’t need a bribe to sell your product,” he said.
Speaking earlier, the managing director of SNEPCo, Bayo Ojulari represented, acknowledged the CGI and his team at the Ikoyi Passport office for the importance of the project stressing that the intervention with the long room is part of a journey of care under a partnership between SNEPCo and NNPC.
As part of a broader social investment portfolio, the intervention aims to improve quality service delivery and enhance the experience of Nigerians seeking to meet their immigration and travel documentation needs at the Ikoyi passport office.”