- Projects 3 months for commencement of local production of booklets
CONTROLLER General of the Nigeria Immigration Service ( NIS), Muhammad Babandede has explained that acquiring the enhanced electronic passport with 10 year validity is a matter of choice as there are other options available to Nigerians.
This is just as he projected that local production of passport booklets may take 3 months once every thing is in place after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc with an indigenous firm, Iris Smart Technology Ltd.
He gave the explanation this morning on a radio program, Factfile broadcast on RayPower and monitored by Nigerianflightdeck where he said the 32 page passport document is still available and valid for 5years.
Callers into the program commended the NIS for the bold step taken to commence local production of 10-year valid booklet but had flayed the N70,000 price tag on the new idea.
However, in his reaction, Babandede said,”You see for those talking about the N70,000 price of the new passport, it is not compulsory you procure that; there is a choice for passport procurement . You can choose the 32 page which has a 5 year validity for N25,000 or you can choose the 64 paged for those who travel a lot and the validity is also 5years but it cost N35,000, so it is a matter of choice and not compulsion.”
On the new enhanced e-passport booklet, the CGI told the public that unlike others the pages are enriched and the writing on the booklet will be engraved among the other countless security features it contains.
He said this 10 year validity passport became necessary because of Nigerians in the diaspora and noted that a vast majority of them welcomed the idea with cheers.
“For Nigerians in diaspora , it is difficult to procure or renew passports. We have 42 diplomatic missions where we have passport machines and some Nigerians have to get visas and travel to those missions to renew the passport. Like if you live in Iceland, it is difficult because you need visas.”
” we introduced interventions and this has helped but the 10 year validity will help more. There are surprisingly over a thousand Nigerians living in Uganda and we do not have a mission in Uganda but we do interventions we send our officers with mobile machines but with the 10 year validity, it solves the challenges. and the people in diaspora are happy as it saves them the hassles.”
On local production of the passport booklet, the immigration helmsman said government took the bold step to ensure the booklets availability, reduce the amount of foreign exchange needed to produce the booklet as well as for pride and national security.
He however said he could not give an accurate time for the production to kick off but stated that the Mint is eager to kick off but said he was projecting a 3-month period.
Recall, the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc signed a memorandum of understanding with an indigenous firm, Iris Smart Technology Ltd, for the production of international passports locally.
At the signing ceremony at the ministry of interior in Abuja on Tuesday, the minister of interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulraham Dambazau (retd), said by the agreement, the production of e-passport will be done solely in Nigeria.
He enumerated the advantages of Nigeria producing the e-passport to include “protection of our database.”
He said producing the document locally would provide employment for Nigerians to acquire skills in passport production as well as the technological know-how in the production of high-quality passport booklets.
“We must ensure that we provide Nigerians with the best quality passport booklet because that is what Nigerians deserve,” he said.
In his remarks, the comptroller-general of immigration, Mr. Muhammad Babandede, thanked the minister for ensuring that domestication of production of the passport was achieved.
He said the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) would be the greatest beneficiary of the development and assured that the passport would be of high quality.
Babandede said the first copy produced would be tested to ensure that it is of the desired quality.