The Federal Government of Nigeria has unveiled plans to digitize the passport application process, introducing a full biometric system by February 2024.
The announcement was made by the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, during the sixth edition of the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit organized by Nigeria in Diaspora (NIDCOM), titled: “New Vistas, New Aspirations, New Opportunities: The Diaspora and National Development”.
The move aims to streamline and modernize the passport application and collection process, reducing the need for physical presence and enhancing efficiency. Tunji-Ojo highlighted that Nigerians, both at home and abroad, deserve a convenient and hassle-free passport application experience.
“A fully biometric immigration application process obtainable in most foreign countries to reduce human contact and convenient passport collection is underway before February 2024.
“Nigerians at home and abroad deserve the best. They don’t have to suffer and sweat to get a Nigerian passport. A team from the Ministry will kickstart the E8 Mandate in the UK, as the first place of this assignment,” he said.
The planned biometric immigration application process is designed to align with global standards and will significantly reduce human contact in the application and collection procedures. The minister emphasized the government’s commitment to providing the best services to its citizens, stating that a team from the ministry would initiate the E8 Mandate in the UK as the first phase of the implementation.
In addition to the biometric system, the minister addressed the issue of unethical behavior by officials in the ministry, stating that such actions would no longer be tolerated. He urged citizens to report any unethical conduct, emphasizing the importance of curbing corruption in the system to enhance service delivery.
“Report any unethical behavior by officers in the Ministry and its respective parastatals, as a deterrent to curbing the menace of corruption in the system and boost effectiveness service delivery to Nigerians,” he added.
This initiative follows other measures taken by the Ministry of Interior to improve the passport application process. In September, Tunji-Ojo issued a directive to clear all passport backlogs within two weeks, declaring that obtaining a passport is a right that should not be unduly delayed.
“After clearing these backlogs, no Nigerian should wait for more than two weeks,” he said, adding that “it’s a right and not a privilege, and Nigerians want that right to be actually theirs, not by somebody offering you your right.”
Furthermore, in October, the minister revealed ongoing discussions with service providers and the Nigeria Immigration Service to digitize and decentralize the entire passport application process. He expressed optimism that by January, Nigerians would be able to complete the application process online, with the added convenience of home delivery options by February next year.
“By January next year, Nigerians will be able to complete this application process online, and by February next year, with collaboration and partnership with other relevant stakeholders, Nigerians will have their passports delivered to their homes, offices, and other locations of their choice,” he said.
The home passport delivery service was introduced as part of the efforts to expedite the passport issuance and renewal processes.
This comprehensive digitization effort is poised to enhance accessibility, reduce delays, and bring greater efficiency to the passport issuance system, aligning with the government’s commitment to leveraging technology for improved public services.