Following the recent policy adjustment of the federal government of Nigeria to introduce E-Passport which will ease the burden off Nigerians who suffer to get international passport, mixed reactions have trailed the U-turn made by the Rauf Aregbesola-led initiative.
Recall the rigours of getting a Nigerian passport can be listed among 1000 ways to die! Haha! Just joking. However, the truth is that getting a Nigerian passport in recent times has become a major nightmare for Nigerians at home and abroad. For Nigerians at home, there is constant excuses of the booklets being scarce; for our compatriots abroad, they are victims of incompetent embassy staff and frequent breakdown of online application forms.
Seeing the myriad of challenges encountered by Nigerians trying to get passports, the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola came up with a new plan to ensure that most problems are fixed within the vicinity of every individual — which meant every Nigerian doesn’t have to travel to Abuja, Lagos or other big cities to have a passport. The ministry had also said it had perfected plans to ensure the citizens can procure or renew their passports in each of the 774 local government areas.
In the words of Rauf Aregbesola, the minister of interior, ” Every Nigerian has the right to a Nigerian passport… the passport should be available in maximum of 72 hours of successful application. Where there are issues, the applicant must be notified within 48 hours”.
With these words, came the new enhanced e- passport. The new enhanced e- passport was not just available to those in Lagos, Abuja or Rivers, residents in the 33 other states could also get their passports at their comfort zone. To avoid being cheated or manipulated by fraudulent immigration officers, application process for the Nigerian passport is online now. No one needs to pay to any immigration officer anymore to get their passport process done.
The new enhanced e-passport appears to be more decentralised i.e., it is no longer limited to Lagos or some other big cities. It is also time-saving; you don’t need to go to the immigration office or see an immigration officer, you can go through the whole process online independently. The new passport also has a fixed amount for the three different categories of passports. For those who desire express service of 24 hours to 72 hours waiting time can visit any passport express centres.
Despite the new modified system, Nigerians are quite sceptical about the changes made especially on the new prices. Here are some interesting reactions from Nigerians on Facebook on National Gists Facebook page:
Dave Kingdom Dave commented: “Lie I paid 60k for 64 page 5 years March 10 this year at their Ikoyi office… So many illegal businesses going on in all their offices nationwide”.
Ijiremi Tolulope added: “We paid for my sister’s passport in August 2019 and collected the passport in May 2021”.
Johnson Obafemi also commented: “If you bribe or pay high to immigration offices, you will get it within a week or two. Corruption is the key, pay jare.
It is obvious Nigerians are still skeptical about the new enhanced e-passport. We applaud the government for the new system and hope it lives up to expectations very soon.