INTERIOR minister Rauf Aregbesola has formally launched the new enhanced 10-year Nigerian passport in the diaspora unveiling the new document at the Nigerian high commission in the UK in London.
Back in January 2019, Nigeria decided to increase the tenure of its Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) international passports to 10 years from the current five years. However, these enhanced passports have not been available to diasporans until yesterday when Mr Aregbesola launched the 64-page document in London assisted by the high commissioner to the UK Ambassador Sarafa Ishola.
Now, when applying for the passports online, applicants have three options to choose from in terms of pages of booklet and length of validity. They can either go for a 32-page booklet with a five year validity, a 64-page booklet with a five year validity or a 64-page booklet with 10 year validity.
Mr Aregbesola said: “What we have come to do here is symbolic of the core mandate of the ministry of interior and indeed, the Federal Government of Nigeria, which is an affirmation of citizenship integrity. The Nigerian passport is the highest affirmation of Nigerian citizenship, so it is therefore our responsibility to provide the passport without any stress, within a reasonable period.
“As we are all aware, there have been huge challenges to passport administration, from shortage of booklet to touting and an economy of corruption built around it. These challenges have persisted for too long and a lot of people have become cynical while other have taken them as normal and then roll with it but I come from a tradition of problem-solving in public administration.
“I do not believe that any problem is insurmountable, so we are going to solve all the problems associated with passport administration and we are already succeeding. The enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology which Nigeria adopted in 2007 as a strategic step towards curbing forgery, impersonation and other forms of fraud associated with obtaining travel document under the old machine readable passport regime.”
“We are aware that technology rules the world and we are keeping abreast of the latest development in the field. Over the years, the Nigeria Immigration Service had worked assiduously and in close synergy with Messrs Iris Smart Technologies Limited to develop and implement passport reforms that are in tandem with international best practices, including extant International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards and regulations.”
Ambassador Ishola added that one major requirement for the issuance of the enhanced e-passport is having a Nigerian National Identification Number (Nin). As a result, the number of enrolment centres licensed by the National Identification Management Commission to process Nins for Nigerians in the UK have been increased to 17 in the five major cities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Leicester, London and Southampton.
He added that the high commission will continue to update all Nigerians on any new development and appealed to applicants to exercise patience with the new process. To speed up the process, the high commission has published the list of the 17 NIN centres licensed to issue documents.