THE Federal Government will in May introduce a system online for the tracking and monitoring of passport applications.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said this at the opening of a two-day workshop for Passport Control Officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service in Abuja on Tuesday.
Aregbesola revealed that the Federal Government had concluded plans to launch a system that would lead to minimal interaction between passport applicants and immigration officers.
The minister said apart from the National Identity Number verification and linking, there should be no other major reason for the delay in issuing passports.
“Not later than a month from today, applicants will be able to track their application online to know precisely what stage is your application. You will not have the hassle of people coming. Just go online with your reference number to check and it will state whether you are having a NIN problem.
“It will tell you the status of your application. It will tell you whether your passport is ready and you can pick it. This will be a month from now by the Grace of God,” he added.
He said the waiting time for fresh passports should not be more than six weeks while for passport renewal, it should not exceed three weeks.
The minister added, “We have adopted a maximum processing period of six weeks. It can be less but it should not be more. If it is more, let it be rare, let it be caused by an external factor, not you. To obtain fresh passports, it should be a maximum of three weeks. It can be less for the renewal.”
Aregbesola warned immigration officers against sharp practices even as he advised them to treat passport applicants as customers.
He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved the full deployment of technology and before the end of the year, drastic changes would be made.
“Very soon, you will not see any passport applicants. Very soon there will be no files. Technology has provided so much succour for whoever wants to be efficient. That will be before the end of this year. Passport processing will be absolutely digitised. As it is impossible to see the air, it will be impossible for anybody to even know which passport is going where. It will just be in the system.
“We will get to a stage where no passport applicant will meet any immigration officer in the process of processing passports and there will be no manual documentation of that process,” the minister added.
Speaking on the theme ‘Effective and Efficient Service Delivery: An Imperative for Maximising the Gains of Passport Reforms Towards a Seamless Passport Issuance’, the Assistant-Comptroller-General in Charge of Passports and Other Travels Directorates, NIS, Modupe Anyalechi, said the primary purpose of the function was to bring passport officers to speed on the ongoing passport reforms.
She said the aim was to make the process of passport issuance seamless without compromising the integrity of the travel document.