Why government digitalises payments for new Nigerian Passports: Minister

*Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Minister for Interior, implores applicants to stop patronising touts and officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service directly, but follow the process  by applying for passports and making payments online

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a move to apply its zero tolerance for corruption and subversion of due process in line with the digital economy agenda of the current administration, the Federal Government has said it digitalised payments for Nigerian Passports.

ConsumerConnect gathered the government has urged the citizens to avoid patronising touts and unscrupulous officials when applying for the important national documents.

Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Honourable Minister for Interior, disclosed this development at the rollout of the country’s Enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and other security features Monday, December 20, 2021, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The Minister stated: “Part of the reforms is the migration of passport application and payments to digital platforms.

“But we regret to observe that applicants still patronise touts and unscrupulous officials in the hope to beat the system and get expedited services. When they were disappointed, they come to report to us.

“Of course, we have zero tolerance for corruption and subversion of due process. We, therefore, take seriously any such report and invoke the necessary disciplinary measures.”

Ogbeni Aregbesola also said: “But I will implore applicants to stop patronising touts and our officials directly. Follow the process we put in place. Apply for passports and pay online.

“The only engagement with our staff is the enrolment of your biometrics. Patronising touts and passport office officials doesn’t always end well, but rather serves to defeat our purpose of eliminating corruption and infusing integrity to the passport administration process.”

In regard to the application prcess, the Minister for Interior further said that a fresh timeline has been set for fresh passport application and re­-issuance.

He as well noted: “Our template stipulates maximum of six weeks for obtaining new passports, and maximum of three weeks for renewal.

“We work within this schedule to enable us to investigate any claims made by applicants and verify them, for the final document we issue them to have integrity. If there are challenges, wait.

“Eventually, you will get your passport before your due date of travel, if you apply early enough. You will still have long enough time to apply for visa and other travel documents.

“Nowhere in the world is passport administration done on a wait-and-get basis except in extreme emergencies. The only wait-and-get passport is passport photograph,” the minister stated.

Improved passports with high-security features

As regards the enhancements in the new passports being rolled out in Ibadan, the Aregesola noted that the passports are improved documents with high-security features.

The Minister also said: “The Enhanced e-Passport is a great improvement on the Biometric Passport technology which Nigeria adopted in 2007 as a deliberate step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of travel document fraud associated with the old Machine-Readable Passport regime.

“It is the latest technology in passport making anywhere in the world and only a few countries have it.

“It is the most secure identity document ever produced. We are proud to make it available to Nigerians.”

In his remarks on the occasion, CG Isah Jere, Acting Comptroller-General (CG) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), also restated the Minister’s call on the citizens to stop patronising touts at passport centres.

Jere said: “As you have heard from the Minister, we expect that the only time citizens will have contact with our officers is during the biometric capturing. You are to apply and pay only.”

Oyo State will continue to support NIS, says Gov. Seyi Makinde

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, who was represented by Mr. Segun Ogunbiyi, his Chief of Staff, commended the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The governor also said that the state would continue to support the Service in performing its statutory duty in the country.

Among other dignitaries at the event are Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, Alaafin of Oyo and Olubadan of Ibadan and as well as Service Chiefs of all the paramilitary services in the state amongst others.

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