From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The National Union of Nigeria Association in Italy (NUNAI), has decried the inability and difficulty of Nigerians in procuring international passports at the consular office in Rome, following heightened tensions and strained relations between the Nigerian consular office and its citizens in Italy over the shortage of Nigeria passports.
The group has called on the leadership of the National Assembly to urgently intervene by calling on the relevant government authorities to come to their aid and resolve the shortages.
The group made the call in a letter titled “NUNAI’s Passionate Appeal to Your Exalted office”, addressed to the leadership of the Senate, House of Representatives and the Controller General Nigerian Immigration Services (NIS).
In the letter signed by the National President of the body, Mr Samson Hodge Iriakannu, and Secretary, Deacon Nosa Osawaru, respectively, the group lamented that large numbers of Nigerian citizens seeking to renew their passport have been ignored by the authority, adding that this has led to pressure and frustration among Nigerians seeking to regularise their stay.
It disclosed that the Association was not relenting in its desire to ensure that the challenges were resolved, the group stated that it is playing a significant role with the Embassy on the campaign against human trafficking, drug peddling and other vices capable of tarnishing Nigerians image.
‘The official record of Nigerians seeking for greener pastures in Italy is over 180,000 with a sizable number of professionals and their contributions to the economic growth of Italy and Nigeria can’t be overemphasised.
‘Despite all these, NUNAI as a body has been faced with daunting issues arising from the Embassy which has put the union under immense pressure.
‘On the issuance of Nigeria passports, Italy houses the vast majority of Nigerians only behind the United Kingdom in the whole of Europe yet we are only entitled to a short supply and this has caused a major uproar amongst Nigerians here in Italy if not for the diplomacy employed by the NUNAI leadership to curtain the situation.
‘It is of note that the presentation of your country’s passport is the prerequisite for a permit of stay and authority to work.
‘The increasing rate of Nigerians population in Italy has been ignored over the years hence the shortage. A case in point shows where Italy and Switzerland were allocated the same quantity of passports where Swiss is ¼ of Italy’s population a matter for concern.
‘Our population in Italy is on the rise. You can imagine in a month we have like 5,000 application”, the letter explained and appealed to the relevant authority to increase the passport quantity allocation to Italy in addition to the establishment of another consular office to ease congestion in Rome.’