Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has issued a firm directive to the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to promptly clear a backlog of more than 200,000 pending international passport applications within a two-week timeframe.
The Minister conveyed this directive during a meeting attended by high-ranking government officials, including Acting Comptroller General Caroline Adepoju and the Managing Director of Iris Smart Technologies, a third-party company responsible for producing passport booklets.
This directive is an extension of the Minister’s commitment to streamline the passport acquisition process and address the persistent delays faced by Nigerian citizens when applying for passports and other immigration documents.
Long-standing processing delays and enrollment challenges have led to frustration among citizens and significant delays in obtaining essential travel documents. The Minister described the situation as a national emergency, emphasizing that he receives daily emails from concerned Nigerians.
He stated during the meeting, “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 that. It has become an embarrassment to His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed 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.”
Acting Comptroller General Caroline Adepoju and Managing Director Yinka Fisher of Iris Smart Technologies assured the Minister that all necessary resources and measures would be mobilized to expedite the processing of pending passport applications. Adepoju disclosed that although the nationwide enrollment numbers exceeded 200,000, the agency had secured an ample supply of passport booklets to address the backlog.
The Minister emphasized his commitment to keeping track of the passport enrollment process and ensuring that debts related to passport production would be cleared by November. He stressed that the delays in obtaining passports must come to an end.
Furthermore, the Minister held a strategic meeting with the heads of other key agencies, including the Controller General of the Federal Fire Service, Abdulganiyu Jaji; the Controller General of the Nigeria Correctional Service, Haliru Nababa; and the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Ahmed Audi. During this meeting, the Minister directed the creation of a practical and executable roadmap with specific timelines, approaches, deliverables, and methodologies. This directive is to be implemented within a four-week period.