NIGERIA’S federal government has launched a Nigerian Temporary Passport (NTP) for its citizens in the diaspora as part of a programme to enable those without travel documents to return home in case of emergencies.
With the coronavirus still raging, many countries still have severe travel restrictions in place and renewing passports is also difficult as many diplomatic missions remain closed. With the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine, foreign travel is increasingly being restricted to those who have been vaccinated and have certificates to prove it.
Many diasporans who want to travel back to Nigeria have been stranded abroad because their passports have expired and they are unable to renew them as the diplomatic missions are shut. To address the problem, interior minister Rauf Aregbesola, has launched the NTP document at the headquarters of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) in Abuja.
Mr Aregbesola said the NTP is a new genre of passport that will be issued at Nigerian embassies and high commissions to Nigerians who want to return home but whose national passport is not available. He added that it is a travel document designed for a one-way travel, which replaces the Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) issued to Nigerians to return home in emergency situations or those who have lost or misplaced their passports.
According to Mr Aregbesola, the temporary passport is International Civil Aviation Organization-compliant and is valid for only 30 days before the date of travel. He added that it does not in any way serve as a replacement for the Nigerian passport
Muhammad Babandede, the NIS comptroller-general said the ETC posed a huge security threat to Nigeria and the global community because it was an ordinary paper devoid of necessary security features of a travel document. However, he added that the temporary passport is a catalyst to Nigeria’s desire for effective identity management as it has a chip and surface personalisation, which is an enhancement of the current Electronic Passport Management System.