A Nigerian man Fagemi Remi, unable to pay for his tuition abroad due to delays with getting his passport renewed, has now collected his travel document barely two weeks after he called out the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) FESTAC branch office for exceeding the average three weeks processing time for passport renewals/reissue.
Remi had applied online for his expired passport to be renewed and was captured on 17th February 2022 at the NIS FESTAC office in Lagos. Since then, efforts to collect the passport were unsuccessful, forcing him to call out the office on twitter on the 13th of May.
Providing an update on the situation on Wednesday 1st June, Remi said: “Although, I couldn’t meet up with a lot of deadlines, wasted time and money but in all thanks to @MinOfInteriorNG @raufaregbesola and the @nigimmigration for their intervention. I collected my passport yesterday 31st of May.”
“We would keep hope alive and continue pushing,” he added.
The NIS inability to meet its average processing time deadlines of six and three weeks for first time applications and renewals respectively, has ranged from shortage in passport booklets, to the backlog caused by the coronavirus lockdown and now recently, to challenges posed by linkage with the National Identity Management System (NIMC).
In addition, some NIS officials and agents have continued to fleece Nigerians, charging well above the official prices for both the 32-page and 64-page document.
For instance, while the official price for a 64-page Nigerian passport with 5 and 10 years validity period is N35, 000 and N70,000 respectively, applicants are charged between N100, 000 – N200, 000.
Similarly, while the new 32-page passport with a five-year validity period is officially N25,000, applicants for are charged between N40, 000 – N70, 000.
Remi told TNG that he paid N55, 000 for the renewal of his 32-page passport which is valid for five years.
The minister of Interior Rauf Aregbesola, had announced that under the new regime of passport processing and issuance which became effective June 1, 2021, applicants would have no basis for further communication with officials, upon the completion of their application process.
Aregbesola added that “special centres” would be established on a public-private partnership basis for expedited passport services. He said these centres would have nationwide spread.
However, this newspaper observed that passport processing remained largely the same and is characterized by delays and extortion at NIS offices particularly in Lagos and Abuja, as well as other branches across the country.
Passport applicants who do not have their National Identity Cards, cannot proceed for capturing and are compelled to part with more money to fast-track the process.