From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, and his Interior counterpart, , have met to fine-tune ways of resolving consular issues across Nigerian missions abroad.
Onyeama said the meeting was convened to tackle the issue of passports, passport renewals, visas and consular issues for Nigerians around the world.
He noted that Nigeria has a large diaspora, adding that the issue of consular matters has been a real challenge for the government.
Onyeama further said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior were of the view that they should come together to find lasting solutions to the challenges that Nigerians face outside the country. Onyeama also said he was glad that the Minister of Interior embraced the invitation and was confident that together, they would work out a system that is responsive to the needs and expectations of Nigerians around the world.
Speaking after the closed-door meeting, Aregbesola said both ministries reviewed the areas that there were challenges, saying that they were working towards putting the issues behind them.
“I am confident that within the shortest possible time, we will resolve the differences and make our relationship on consular matters very seamless, effective and efficient for the benefit of Nigerians in diaspora,” Aregbesola said.
Asked about the issue of shortage of passport booklets and the government’s effort to remedy the situation, Aregbesola said the issue was no longer existent.
“There is nothing like that anymore. It is behind us. There is no shortage of booklets anywhere. Nigerians who require passport now get it within the period stipulated for its issuance – maximum of three weeks for re-issue, maximum of six weeks for new applications,” Aregbesola also said.
Further speaking, Onyeama said the meeting was extremely fruitful, saying that Nigerians faced in the past, huge challenges in the area of consular matters.
“We really are entering a whole new era of consular relations for Nigerians outside this country and also for foreigners that plan to come into the country,” Onyeama added.
Also speaking, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Australia, Ambassador Anderson Madubike, said it was true that passport booklets had become available.