The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) said it has introduced a tracking system for the monitoring of statuses of passport applications by applicants.
The acting comptroller general of NIS, Isah Idris, who disclosed this during a brief media interaction on Saturday evening, said the initiative is part of the agency’s efforts toward sustaining transparency and accountability in the passport issuance process.
Mr Idris said since the launch of the online appointment system by the agency, the allegations of corruption and harassment against his personnel have significantly reduced. This is even as he appealed to Nigerians to always stick to the rules and “stop inducing our officers.”
He said: “Like parcels sent through logistic companies or visa applications, we have introduced a tracking system so that people can stay in the comfort of their rooms and know the status of their passport applications.
“You don’t need to offer anyone any kobo. All that you need to do is to log into our website on www.trackimmigration.gov.ng, upload the required details and see an immediate response on the status of your passports.”
Significance of the initiative
According to Mr Idris, the new initiative is part of the efforts to phase out human interactions, saying the rowdiness and delay in the passport issuance would soon be a thing of the past.
He said the best method to address the inadequacies identified with the production process is the deployment of technology and pleaded with Nigerians to always apply for their passport before its expiration or “only when they need it.”
He added that other measures are being put in place to resolve all the challenges identified with passport application in Nigeria, saying the challenges currently being experienced are results of combined problems of the coronavirus disease, foreign exchange scarcity, national identity number validation, among others.
The acting comptroller general said apart from the tracking system, the agency will also in the next four weeks introduce self-validation of applicants’ NIN available on its portal and that only when such is done will the applicant proceed to pay and book an appointment for capturing.
He said: “We must also note that passports confer on holders the integrity of a nation, therefore the integrity of producing such documents should also not be compromised. So we must verify the authenticity of applicants’ claims before we proceed for production.
“Also, most times, delays are usually caused by the NIN validation problems and what we want to do now will allow individual applicants to, first of all, verify and validate their NIN and only upload validated NIN before they can pay for passports. By doing that, we would have successfully tackled the issue of a delay from other partners which we don’t have control over.”
Alert system introduction
Meanwhile, Mr Idris also explained that the Service is working on the introduction of an alert system “so that holders of passports can be reminded when it is six months to the expiration of their passports.”
“Like the driver licences, NIS is planning to introduce an alert system as soon as passports have about six months to expire. This is how much we are trying to leverage on technology to ease the stress currently being experienced,” the acting CGI said.
He also spoke on the plan to domesticate the production of passports, saying efforts have reached an advanced stage towards achieving that.
Mr Idris said President Muhammadu Buhari has since issued a directive towards achieving that, and that the ongoing process will only continue pending the completion of the domestication project.
He thanked the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, for his efforts towards achieving the target, and pledged his administration’s commitment to “the dream.”
“If we eventually do that, we would have opened more job opportunities for Nigerians, improve the national economy by stopping the capital flight, and also enhance the sanctity of our nation. But there is more to it than just the production. The integrity of the system matters a lot and we cannot afford to have a passport that would lose its integrity,” he added.
By Mojeed Alabi