By Biola Adebayo
The Nigeria Immigration Service has denied allegation of shortage of passport booklets in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there has been complaints by some Nigerians over their inability to get the passport booklets from the NIS.
An investigation carried out by a NAN correspondent at the NIS headquarters in Abuja revealed that applicants were seen waiting to collect their booklets.
Meanwhile, the NIS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sunday James, while denying the allegation on Tuesday, said that the large number of applicants at the headquarters was the reason why the process became cumbersome.
“The pressure at the headquarters is what people are amplifying and not that there is any reality.
“The pressure is so enormous. Everybody wants to come to his friend for passport and the Comptroller-General had insisted that there shouldn’t be friendship in this passport business.
“Some Nigerians want it immediately and so they seek the services of touts,” James said.
James told NAN that the passport was a document of the Federal Government which was to be issued to qualified Nigerians, and as such, there was no reason why citizens should not get the booklet.
“If you know you are qualified, why should you look for somebody to help you obtain it?
“This is what is causing this problem and they end up entering into the wrong hands. We are discouraging this,” he said.
He noted that the Comptroller-General had directed that every passport office in the country should be supplied with adequate booklets.
“When we have people thronging the headquarters, even with the workforce, you are going to overstretch them, not to talk of the transition period where we are talking of migrating to the new passport,” he said.
The spokesman explained that a lot of machines were being installed and a lot of systems being put in place to ensure that migrating to the new passport is feasible and without stress.
NAN reports that the service had said that it would begin issuance of the new 10-year enhanced e-passport from April 29.
“The new passport will be integrated with the National Identity Number.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on January 16, officially launched the new e-passport.
The cost of the 32-page five-year standard passport stands at N25,000, 64-page five-year standard passport, N35,000, while the 64-page 10-year standard passport costs N70,000 and the 32-page five-year official passport is N15,000.
The new passport has enormous advantages which include ten year validity, self-tracking application and express centers for urgent application.