CEM REPORT | The Federal Government through the Ministry of Interior has said it is holding the passport of no one nor preventing anyone from traveling.
This Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Abdulrauf Aregbesola, revealed this at the 3rd and 4th Quarter 2021 Performance Review of the Ministry Abuja.
He attributed the delay in the issuance of international passports to the rare but sudden breakdown of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) server which makes validation of passport applicants’ biodata impossible, according to Vanguard report.
“We are not the ones holding your passports and preventing you from traveling. The problem is the inability to link your biodata with your NIN. That is responsible and it is beyond our control. Why could this be? The server of NIMC might be down, it rarely happens, but it does happen.”
He further said, the irregularities in names on Passport and National Identification Number NIN is also a contributing factor.
“Another problem is the applications themselves. Individuals shouldn’t be bearing different names on their NIN and passports. It won’t be a seamless integration. There shouldn’t be a mix up of middle names in place of first names and vice versa, as it is on your NIMC so it should appear on your passport.
“You must integrate your NIN with your Passport, without which we cannot issue a passport. So the delays therefore are not caused by us at all. As long as that integration of your biodata also called biometrics with your NIN number, which is on the database of NIMC, cannot accept your biodata as similar or identical with the one in it to issue a passport, without such integration or harmonization, it will simply be impossible.
“These little things conspire against speedy processing of passports. I took time to explain this, because most Nigerians do not care about these minute details, they just heap the blame on the Nigeria Immigration Service.”
Furthermore, the Minister said, international passport applicants will soon be able to track their applications online, adding that though the Ministry isn’t were it wants to be services have improved.
“I must say that our services have improved tremendously and quite noticeably too, with presentation of our performance at the Second Ministerial Retreat organized by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation which was applauded and well received.
“We are not yet there by our own standards. Things are not yet where they are supposed to be, but I want to assure Nigerians that we will not rest on our oars.’’
Recall that the NIMC portal reportedly experienced technical glitches in February which affected telecommunication services.
Also in November of 2021, NIMC had blamed the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), for the hitches in international passport issuance to applicants, saying that NIS had failed to utilise modern technology to verify the National Identify Numbers (NIN) of applicants.