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.
Babandede made this known today as he inaugurated the Nigerian Immigration service (NIS) renovated and equipped long room project by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company ( SNEPCo) as well as erection of an Access Bank building 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 desk top computers and office tables and chairs.
The CGI thanked SNEPCo urging other companies to emulate their gestures as they were contributing their quota, not for immigration but giving back so Nigerians can enjoy comfort while getting top notch service.
He however charged his men, to ensure maintenance of the facilities were top on their mind as having a maintenance culture has always been a challenge in the country and one whose cycle must broke.
On the reason for extending the re-issuance timeline, Babandede said it was not unconnected to making the process full prove and removing contact between servicemen and the customers to reduce or eliminate corruption in any form.
He said, ”The waiting period was 74 hours but the minister wanted a waiting phase before the passports were issued. Let me give you one of the reforms carried out, we use to have home address when the passports were issued but now we have added permanent home address, this will help us identify true Nigerians.
“I work in Abuja and stay there, it is not my permanent address, most of us are not Lagosians, we are either in Lagos to do business or work for a company. In that situation, we can apply for passport at Ikoyi or Alausa in Lagos. That does not show you as a true Nigerian that is why we decided apart from your home address, in addition you add your permanent address so your family can be traced. We want to use that to trace applicants.
“For 74 hours, we are not keeping the 74 hours time that is why we are rushing it to keep it. All over the world many countries have timelines that is why they have timelines longer than one or two weeks. So this is a situation where we want to give out passports in an organised way, efficiently without compromising the system.
On how the new passport regime can help reduce corruption, Babandede said, “The new passport regime which is being driven by the minister of interior, is to reduce contact between officers and customers, why are we doing this? in order to discourage corruption.
“One of the ways to achieve this is to have the timeline. There are issues people come to the passport office and request passport 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 direct. Before it was difficult to make payment to our website but now you can easily make payment, you can print your receipt and come. We have made it much easier that not everybody 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 attached to the project stressing that the intervention with the long room is part of a journey of care under a partnership between SNEPCo and NNPC.
” The intervention is part of a wider social investment portfolio aimed at improving quality service delivery to the public and enhancing the experience of millions of Nigerians seeking to meet their various immigration and travel documentation needs at the Ikoyi passport office.