By Solomon Odeniyi
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola has said there is no shortage of passport booklets in the country.
According to him, with the supplies of booklets available with the Nigerian Immigration Service, there can never be shortage of booklets.
He said what the country was contending with was ‘human challenges’.
Aregbesola spoke during the decoration of the acting Comptroller -General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Idris Jere, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, “I say to you that there is no shortage of booklets in the country, we maybe having human challenges. The truth is that, in terms of supply of booklets we have on ground, there cannot be shortage of booklets.
“I read lamentations on social media and I want to say nobody can access Nigerian passport without going online, it is not possible those who go online are not serviced , although some still partronise touts to a cess the online process. This is because of the difficulty we have managing ourselves that is why they have refused to go through it the proper way.”
Explaining why some applicants get long appointment dates, he said this was as a result of the volume of applicants in the area.
Aregbesola said, “Depending on the volume of applicants in your chosen station, your appointment period can be short or long. For example, if you’re in Lagos, Ikoyi passport office has the highest volume of passport seekers in Nigeria, it is almost 50 percent of the entire population of applicants in Nigeria. If you pick Ikoyi, you might have three months waiting period to have your data captured and other enrollment requirements, whereas it is not so in other places.”
The Minister also disclosed that the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) was unhappy with the cumbersome nature of getting the Nigerian passports abroad as well as applying for Visa on arrival.
Aregbesola said, “I received a message from the president at FEC today which I want to make public. The president is concern with the report coming from overseas on the difficulty of getting a Nigerian passport . The challenges are there not because of the lack of concern.
“Second, international visitors to Nigeria and even Nigerians who have the fortune of being born outside the country and therefore need to have a Nigerian passport before they can come into the country because they couldn’t get and want to come home through the visa on arrival platform find it difficult to process this effectively and seamlessly. We can’t afford to have this challenges with our people in diaspora.”