The Federal Government of Nigeria has unveiled plans to revolutionize the passport application process by introducing a fully biometric system, set to be operational by February 2024. Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, revealed this groundbreaking initiative during the Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit, organized by Nigeria in Diaspora (NIDCOM).
The move aims to address challenges associated with passport processing in the country, with a primary focus on digitizing the application process and eliminating the need for physical queues.
Minister Tunji-Ojo emphasized the government’s commitment to providing Nigerians with a streamlined, biometric immigration application process, mirroring systems already in place in various foreign countries. The goal is to reduce human contact and enhance the convenience of passport collection.
“Nigerians at home and abroad deserve the best. They don’t have to suffer and sweat to get a Nigerian passport,” stated the Minister, underlining the significance of the upcoming changes.
The Minister also outlined plans for the E8 Mandate, a strategic initiative that will commence in the United Kingdom. This program is designed to optimize the passport application process, leveraging advanced biometric technology to improve efficiency and accuracy.
In addition to the technological advancements, Tunji-Ojo addressed the issue of corruption within the ministry, urging Nigerians to report any misconduct by officers. This commitment aligns with the government’s broader initiative to eradicate unethical behavior and enhance overall service delivery.
Looking ahead, the Minister disclosed plans for home delivery of passports by 2024, with collaboration with the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) to facilitate seamless delivery nationwide. The ongoing automation of the end-to-end passport application process is geared towards providing applicants with a more efficient and expedited experience.
“We have commenced the automation of our end-to-end passport application process, and we have given a timeline from which Nigerians will begin to experience the ‘sweet experience,'” Tunji-Ojo assured. “By January next year, Nigerians will be able to complete this application process online, and by February next year, with collaboration and partnership with other relevant stakeholders, Nigerians will have their passports delivered to their homes, offices, and other locations of their choice.”
FG Allocates N3.2bn for State-of-the-Art Screening Machines in Major Airports
Nigeria has approved N3.2 billion for the acquisition of advanced screening machines at five major international airports in a move to enhance aviation security. The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, disclosed this development after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, chaired by President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.
The airports set to benefit from this initiative include Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Port Harcourt International Airport, Aminu Kano International Airport, and Enugu International Airport. The plan involves implementing sophisticated explosive and narcotic detection screening systems to replace manual bag searches.
Festus Keyamo highlighted the inefficiencies and challenges faced by passengers during manual bag searches, emphasizing the need for an improved system. The new detection machines are expected to swiftly identify explosives or illicit substances as bags pass through the screening process, streamlining the security procedures at airports.
“This is what Nigerians would be interested in because since I came to office, we have been inundated with complaints of the harrowing experiences that passengers go through at the airports where they have to physically search their bags,” said Keyamo. He outlined the plan to implement a system similar to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in America, ensuring a more efficient and secure screening process.
The awarded contracts, totaling N3.2 billion, will cover the supply and installation of customized explosives and narcotics detection screening systems with remote and dual view capabilities. This investment is anticipated to significantly enhance security measures within Nigeria’s aviation sector.
In addition to this development, Minister Keyamo announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) ratified Nigeria’s bilateral air service agreement with the Republic of Guyana, further strengthening diplomatic ties in the aviation sector.
Stakeholders Commend Kyari’s Reappointment, Urge Swift Implementation of Gas Policy
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have expressed approval for the reappointment of Malam Mele Kyari as the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL). President Bola Tinubu’s decision to extend Kyari’s tenure has garnered positive reactions from industry insiders, who see it as a strategic move to ensure stability and further the ongoing reform initiatives in the sector.
Former President of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Mr. Ajibola Oyebamiji, highlighted the crucial need to operationalize the refineries. He called on Kyari to use his renewed term to boost production, implement the gas policy, incentivize gas exploration, and support local gas utilization.
Oyebamiji stated, “The GCEO’s reappointment is a welcome development and cheering news for the oil and gas industry. He is a round peg in a round hole. For the stability of the industry and implementation of the ongoing reform policies, it is well-deserved.”
Dr. Emeka Akabogu, Executive Vice Chairman of OTL Africa Downstream, noted the pragmatic nature of Kyari’s reappointment in light of NNPCL’s transition into full private sector operations. Akabogu acknowledged Kyari’s efforts in this transitional phase and stressed the importance of organizational stability.
On his expectations, Akabogu stated, “I anticipate that he strengthens the establishment of a robust and competitive national oil company capable of competing both locally and internationally. It’s crucial for NNPCL to adhere strictly to competition regulations, especially when engaging with local operators in the downstream value chain.”
The newly appointed board of NNPCL features Chief Pius Akinyelure as the Non-Executive Board Chairman, Alhaji Umar Ajiya as the Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Ledum Mitee as a Non-Executive Director, among others. The stakeholders’ emphasis on the swift implementation of the gas policy underscores the industry’s eagerness for strategic measures aligned with both national and international standards.
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