The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), has disclosed that the number of passports issued in the country between 2020 and 2021 increased to over one million.
The passport issuance figure, according to the immigration, went up from 767,164 in 2020, to 1,059,607 in 2021, representing an increase of 38%.
Ranging from standard, official, diplomatic, and emergency travel certificates, to refugee passports or conventional travel documents, a breakdown of the figure revealed that out of the total passports issued in 2020, 761,825 were standard; 2,024 were official; 444 were diplomatic, and 2,871 were ETCs.
In 2021, the NIS said it issued 1,041,537 standard passports, 2,811 official passports, 895 diplomatic passports, 14,214 ETCs and 150 refugee passports.
Why Nigeria recorded an increase in passport issuance
Findings by BizWatch Nigeria uncovered that the passport issuance figure soared high because many Nigerians were seeking to relocate out of the country due to unfavourable economic conditions and labour industry’s dwindling future. For instance, the United Kingdom (UK) immigration reported that in the course of the period under review, it granted Nigerian healthcare workers no less than 13,609 working visas.
Commenting on the relocation trend in Nigeria, the Executive Director of Adopt A Goal Initiative, Ariyo-Dare Atoye argued that the rising number of Nigerians obtaining passports may not be unconnected to the high emigration rate occasioned by the harsh economic realities and security challenges of the past decade.
“Check the statistics of the Nigerian Medical Association and see how many doctors have left in the last two years. Many Nigerians used the pandemic lockdown to look for openings globally. They searched for jobs and other opportunities around the world and a lot of people succeeded in securing one opportunity or the other. So, when the lockdown was lifted for people to travel, they started seizing the opportunity. And we’re likely to see more Nigerians moving.
“We will see a reduction in this only if we get the right leadership in 2023. But as we speak, the trigger is not because of the efficient system that has been put in place by the Nigerian Immigration Service. Rather, it is because many Nigerians are leaving this country. Tired of the situation at home, they look for opportunities elsewhere,” he stated.
This is second only to India with 42,966 practitioners.