About five working days after getting a marching order from Interior Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has cleared about 60,000 out of the 200,000 international passports awaiting issuance to applicants.
Tunji-Ojo disclosed this during a meeting with Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation Minister Betta Edu in Abuja on Tuesday.
He reassured that once the remaining 140,000 passport backlogs were cleared, it would take new applicants only two weeks to receive the travel document.
Tunji-Ojo had at a parley with NIS authorities on Wednesday, September 6, maintained that under his watch, Nigerians home and abroad, would not be subjected to hardships and bottlenecks in the process of obtaining passport booklets.
He consequently gave them 14 days to issue the pending 200,000 to their owners.
“Delays in the processing and enrolment of passports in Nigeria have been a source of frustration for citizens, causing significant delays in obtaining crucial travel documents”, he had said.
Speaking on Tuesday, Tunji-Ojo, said about 60,000 passports, specifically 59,906 have been cleared as at Tuesday morning.
“When we came on board, the passport crisis was an embarrassment. And, we said: it cannot continue.
“As of this morning, I can tell you that about 60,000 passport backlogs have been cleared, spespecially 59,906. On Wednesday, September 6, 2023, when I gave the 2-week ultimatum, we had over 200,000 backlogs. We have recorded progress, and I maintain my word that those backlogs must be cleared”, he said.
At the meeting, Edu said a plan by the Federal Government to grant soft loans to widows of NIS, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Correctional Service(NCS) and Federal Fire Service personnel that died while on duty.
The Interior and Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation ministries agreed at the meeting to set up a joint to address poverty, insecurity and check the number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in the country.
A statement by Afonja Ajibola, director of Press in the Ministry of Interior, quoted Tunji-Ojo as saying that the two ministries have a semblance of mandate.
The Interior minister added that collaboration between the two ministries would go a long way in achieving the objectives of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He appreciated Edu for broadening the mandate of her ministry to cover vulnerable ex-servicemen under the supervision of his ministry and inmates of correctional facilities.
Earlier, the Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation minister applauded Tunji-Ojo for taking his job head-on. She added that inmates of correctional facilities would start enjoying improved skill acquisition programmes.