As news of the unprecedented clearance of backlog of international passports by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) as a direct consequence of an ultimatum by the Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, a coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) has commended the management of NIS and the Minister of Interior for entrenching transparency and accountability in the process leading to the issuance of passports in Nigeria.
In a widely covered press conference organised by Rev. Solomon Semaka and Bishop Abel Kings of Save Nigeria Movement and College of Bishops Imam and Clergy Councils respectively and attended by all major print and broadcast media houses in Nigeria,
The Coalition particularly lauded the Minister of Interior for his efforts in eliminating artificial bottlenecks that previously held Nigerians hostage in their quest to procure or renew their passports.
According to the statement, “with the clearance of 190,749 backlog of passports in less than three weeks, Dr. Tunji-Ojo is indeed a gift to Nigeria. Together with Mrs Carol Wura-Ola, the Comptroller General (CG), President Tinubu has shown his mastery in selecting and retaining highly competent teams. The success recorded by this duo underscores what merit can achieve as against favouritism that breeds inefficiency.
“Prior to the appointment of Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo as the Minister of Interior, there were a lot of artificial bottlenecks affecting fresh registrations and renewal of international passports in Nigeria. The presence of unauthorised middlemen and touts made it even more frustrating. However, respite has come for countless Nigerians who endured frustrating delays at Passport offices, negatively impacting their business trips, educational pursuits, and vacations. With the robust deployment of technology across NIS and Passport offices, we announce with great satisfaction that, within a few weeks, all passport-related issues will be a thing of the past”.
Excited with the success recorded in the Ministry of Interior with the improvements in passport procurement, the Coalition expressed optimism that “a new Nigeria is possible, all that is needed is the political will and determination of our leaders to solving the very complex challenges confronting us as a nation. Pointing out that with good leaders, the renewed hope agenda of President Tinubu is indeed / especially if all Nigerians regardless of political and social orientation will give their leaders with maximum cooperation.
“The progress made so far in solving this hitherto complex challenge has given us hope as a nation. With only approximately 13,583 pending applications, and with the pace of work currently ongoing at Passport offices, it’s just a matter of days before every application will be attended to. We are equally thrilled by the efforts made in expanding access, procuring more hardware and software necessary to fast track work the issuance of passports with less than one hour waiting period. Transformations like this gladden our hearts and give us hope that every sector of the Nigerian economy can be made to function with the right leadership and team”, the statement added.
The group urged Nigerians to to key into the innovative solutions put in place under the able leadership of Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo and Mrs Carol Wura-Ola, the Minister of Interior and Comptroller General of Immigration respectively
in facilitating the issuance of passports and never give into the antics of meddlesome touts who would want to subvert the system for their selfish interests.
Part of the statement reads, “Nigerians and indeed the civil society will continue to hold onto the assurances of Dr. Tunji-Ojo that never will there be backlogs in the application and issuance of passports especially due to deliberate human activities. It is our duty as patriotic Nigerians to shun touts and other unauthorised persons at passport offices. We must avoid shortcuts and backdoor applications to enable the system put in place by the current Comptroller General remains sustainable and efficient. With the technology already deployed for a more streamlined and corruption-free passport procurement system, we don’t have any excuse to go back to the old and embarrassing system”.
The Coalition unanimously passed a vote of confidence on the Minister of Interior and Mrs Carol Wura-Ola, the Comptroller General of Immigration “for exhibiting professionalism and team work in their quest to finding a lasting solution to the issues surrounding the issuance of passports by installing a truly transparent, efficient and flexible process that can rival those of advanced countries, a sharp contrast to what existed before, serving to diminish the value of our passport and even the image of Nigerians across the globe”