The minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the slow passport application process on corrupt officials who undermine the efforts of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, at sanitizing the process.
Aregbesola while speaking in Oyo State during the inauguration of the NIS passport front office in the town on Tuesday said NIS has not, at any given time, experienced a shortage of passport booklet.
The senate had on Tuesday asked its committee on interior to investigate the complaints of delay in the renewal and issuance of international passport across the country.
The directive came after complaints by Nigerians about the inability to renew or get fresh passports from the NIS.
The minister described the excuse of passport shortage as a lie being peddled by a few corrupt officials of the service to extort the applicants.
Aregbesola said, “One of the challenges facing NIS as regards passports application are the few corrupt officials of the service who are undermining the efforts of the service at sanitising the process and bringing integrity to passports application.
“These unscrupulous people are making the situation difficult by the day. If people did not tolerate them, they will not exist again.
“They are the ones spreading the rumour that there is no booklet in order to continue to extort the applicants.
“We did not have shortage of booklets at any given time; we have enough booklets to meet the need of the people. There are more than enough booklets in our production schedule.”
The minister appealed to Nigerians to stop patronising the “louts” and report any NIS official extorting applicants for money.
He said the NIS has improved its services, adding that only a few countries could boast of the type of passport Nigeria has, which he said “is one of the best in the world”.
He said the challenges currently facing the immigration service include the dearth of offices to enrol applicants for data capturing.
Aregbesola said the challenges are gradually being tackled, especially with the construction of more passport front offices.
The inauguration of the new office in Oyo town would reduce the congestion in Ibadan centre, he said.
He added that about 5,000 applicants waiting for data capturing in Ibadan centre would be moved to the new centre in Oyo, to reduce the challenge of waiting.
Aregbesola said, “There is a limit to the number of applicants any passport office can attend to in a day, thus making it impossible to urgently attend to all the applicants, necessitating the long waiting period.
“Ibadan can only attend to 450 applicants in a day and that is why we need several locations like this one in Oyo.”
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