The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has given the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) two weeks to process all pending passport applications.
Tunji-Ojo issued the directive during a meeting with Caroline Adepoju, acting comptroller-general of immigration, in Abuja on Thursday.
Yinka Fisher, managing director of Iris Smart Technologies, the business in charge of producing Nigerian passport booklets, also attended the conference.
The directive, according to the minister, was issued to fulfill his promise to remove all impediments in the acquisition of Nigerian passports and other immigration documents.’
“Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria have been a source of frustration for citizens, causing significant delays in obtaining crucial travel documents,” Tunji-Ojo said.
“Having to deal with about 200,000 backlogs calls for a national emergency.
“As far as I am concerned, the issue of passport is a national emergency; I keep getting emails daily from Nigerians complaining.
“We cannot continue like this. It has become an embarrassment to President Bola Tinubu. I represent him here as your minister.
“That embarrassment is mine now. I am not changing my words. I need the backlog cleared in two weeks.
“I get daily reports on enrolment from NIS on my phone. This is my best way to be in the know of the situation.
“Nigerians deserve the best. It is their right to own a passport if they can afford it. We will also ensure that our debts are cleared by November.
“My position remains that the delay in the process of obtaining the passport must end.”
Adepoju and Fisher promised the minister in their speeches that all required resources and methods would be deployed to clear the backlog of passport applications.
While the number of enrolments as of Thursday morning exceeded 200,000 across the country, Adepoju stated that the NIS had procured enough booklets to clear the backlog.