By Christopher Oji, Lagos
The new Passport Control Officer (PCO) of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Ikoyi Passport Office, Mrs AO Bewaji, has assured new applicants that the procurement process for passports would be reduced to six weeks.
According to the PCO, who took office 10 days ago, applicants would no more suffer delays in procurement of passports, saying it would take new applicants six weeks to obtain their passport, and three weeks to renew passports.
Bewaji, a Deputy Controller of Immigration, in a media chat on Wednesday, vowed to clear the backlog of passports and also deal decisively with touts loitering around the passport office.
According to her, the office has materials, including booklets for passports adding that the era of ‘suffering applicants seeking passports was over. As you can see, we are seriously clearing backlogs of passports. We are not doing it alone, but with the help of the NIS task force from Abuja, we are ready to clear the backlogs of passports.
‘We have received complaints from Nigerians and we are doing our best to serve them better. We are pleading with Nigerians to exercise patience with us as we would soon meet their demands. Those who want to renew their passport would get it in three weeks, while those who are applying for new ones will get it in six weeks,’ she said.
‘Applicants should try to validate their National Identity Number (NIN) and make sure that their names and information must also correspond with what is in their application. We have created a new unit where complaints should be lodged and we are going to build suggestion boxes where a member of the public will be dropping their complaints and suggestions that will make us appraise ourselves.
‘Throughout my tenure, service delivery will be taken to a greater level; applicants will be attended to on the basis of first-come-first-serve. The ministerial order on passport issuance administration reforms would be strictly adhered to. Now we have enough passport booklets.
‘One of the greatest challenges confronting us is the issue of power which is hindering the processing of passports at Ikoyi. Thank God a new generation bank – Access Bank – has just given us a 100 kV generating set; now we have been able to overcome the challenge. We have placed a big banner outside the entrance of the Ikoyi office for every applicant to have access to the price. We are presently printing flyers to educate applicants on what to do before even applying for passports. We will educate the public on what to do about their NIN and the difference between NIN and NIS because people misunderstand that NIN is a separate office from NIS. If we are able to guide applicants on what to do, we will do away with touts,’ the Passport Control Officer explained.
Bewaji warned officers to sit tight and touts to leave the vicinity, saying it is no longer business as usual at the Ikoyi Passport Office.