Home » Nigeria’s passport backlog reduced by over 25% in five days

Nigeria’s passport backlog reduced by over 25% in five days

by Victor Adetimilehin

The Nigerian government has announced significant progress in clearing the backlog of international passports that have been pending for months due to various challenges. The Interior Minister, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said on Tuesday that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has cleared 55,000 out of the 200,000 passport applications that were awaiting issuance to applicants.

He said this was achieved within five days after he gave a 14-day ultimatum to the NIS authorities on September 7 to issue the pending passports or face sanctions. He mentioned that the agency was determined to ensure that Nigerians at home and abroad would not be subjected to hardships and bottlenecks in the process of obtaining passport booklets.

The main challenge was the difficulty in linking applicants’ National Identity Numbers (NINs) to their booklets, as the servers of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) have been down for a month. However, The NIS is collaborating with the NIMC to resolve the issue and ensure a smooth and seamless process for passport applicants.

The NIS is also working with the Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Minister, Betta Edu, to set up a joint committee that addresses the challenges caused by poverty, and insecurity and documents the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country. 

The interior minister said the two ministries have a semblance of mandate and would work together to achieve the objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He commended Edu for broadening the mandate of her ministry to include vulnerable ex-servicemen under his supervision and inmates of correctional facilities.

In her remarks, Edu applauded Tunji-Ojo for taking his job head-on and expressed her readiness to partner with him for the benefit of Nigerians. The passport backlog has been a source of frustration for many Nigerians who need the travel document for various purposes, such as education, business, tourism, and medical treatment.

The government has been trying to improve its passport service delivery and reduce the waiting time for applicants, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. The government has also been seeking to diversify its economy and boost its non-oil exports, which require an efficient and effective passport system. The reduction of the passport backlog is expected to ease the pressure on Nigerians and enhance their mobility and opportunities.

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