By Anthony Obi
Dr. Amajuoyi Festus Amareze, Deputy Comptroller of Immigration (DCI), Nigeria Immigration Service, has a mission to fulfill at the FESTAC Passport Office, Lagos, as the new Passport Controller Officer.
He spoke with Daily Sun more on this and other issues:
What is your mandate when you were posted here as Passport Control Officer?
I am not new to FESTAC Pass Port Office. I acted as second in command here in 2014 before I was posted to Abuja for a security course. From there, I went for another three-month course in Ilorin, Kwara State.
I have the mandate of the Comptroller General Mr. Mohammed Babandede. He has a clear vision and purpose of how to take the Service to the next level. I have confidence in him because he provides the right leadership and the will to bring about positive changes.
We are following the SERVICOM principle of getting good and positive results within the shortest possible time. We have resolved to follow the SERVICOM principle of quality service delivery. This is the message from the CG. And that is my mandate.
In pursuing this mandate within the short time you have been here, what are the challenges?
One of the challenges is ensuring and maintaining discipline. To fulfill our mandate and fulfill our goals, there is need for discipline both on the part of members of the public and staff of the Service.
For the staff we have to ensure punctuality and sensitivity to the needs of the people we are dealing with. We must ensure we meet their aspirations and should not frustrate them. This is where SERVICOM, which the CG emphasizes comes to play. We are working hard at the FESTAC Passport Office to meet the demands of prompt quality and prompt service delivery.
I must confess that since I came, things have changed positively in accordance with the CG’s demands. We are striving hard to do things right and the officers are up to the task. The pressure is on us to meet the aspirations of the people and change their old perceptions and prejudices. With the support of my officers, I am convinced we are up to the task. I am really getting the positive response neede from my officers, having realized the seriousness the CG attaches to prompt service delivery.
How long does it take one to secure an international passport now?
We prioritise our operations to get maximum results and this is paying off. It is 24 hours for emergency situation.
Applicants in this category include those who need passport for medical treatment, pregnant women, children, students, government officials, the aged and the physically challenged. We make sure they secure their passports within 24 hours. Others in the second category would get theirs within 72 hours.
We have come to realize that passport is a necessity for every citizen. That is why we have zero tolerance for touting and falsification of documents. We lay so much emphasis on proper verification of documents. Applicant must be physically present and properly screened to secure a passport.
Apart from passport matters, what other duties are assigned to the Nigeria Immigration Service?
We are connected with international business, because it is our responsibility to ensure that foreigners are involved in genuine and legal investment in Nigeria. We provide the enabling environment for these foreigners to come in and do legitimate business.
We do this through immigration attaches in our foreign missions where we render services to foreign nationals and investors wishing to come to Nigeria. We offer advice and screen them before they are issued visas. This is to ascertain that they are coming into the country with good intentions.
We do not stop at that, when they come in we monitor their activities and movements to be sure they do not deviate. By this, we ensure that no foreigner is a security risk and our national security is not undermined. The Service also carries periodic inspection visits to market places, hotels and companies to check illegal immigrants.
The NIS issues Nigerian citizenship to deserving foreigners after fulfilling certain requirements. Also we play our role prominently in the ECOWAS protocol and relationship with other nations.
This is to show you that the Nigeria Immigration Service is not static, but dynamic like every other organization.
As gatekeepers, our officers keep close watch at the borders to stem the influx of illegal immigrants. We do this in cooperation with other security agencies. Through this, we prevent criminals from entering the country from other nations.
How do perceive the future of the Nigeria Immigration Service?
CG Babandede is a man of vision and action, a go-getter. He is focused and has good purpose for the Service. His mission is the continued growth and development of the Service.
That is why he is very passionate about the welfare of his staff. He has zero tolerance for indiscipline and failure. He is a lover of teamwork. He puts staff welfare in the front burner in making decision about appointments. He seeks for service delivery because he has good purpose for the Service. He puts round pegs in round holes.
He lays solid foundation for the NIS and that portends a wonderful future for the Service, because of the staff strength, its composition and the high quality.
We have given a holistic approach to the FESTAC Passport Office.
That made us to set up eight committees to sample responses from the staff. We take discipline and dress code with all seriousness. They are our driving forces and the policy has brought positive changes to the system. For example, by 8am everyday, the staffs are seated at their various duty posts.