Several months after the delay in the issuance of passports, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, on Saturday said the Nigeria Immigration Service was working to ensure all outstanding passport applications were issued by May 31.
He also said that from June 1, passports would be issued within six weeks, explaining that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the issuance of passports in the country.
He, however, said the government had launched the electronic temporary passport to ease the burden on Nigerians.
Aregbesola spoke on Saturday during a virtual inaugural quarterly lecture series of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission which was monitored by Sunday PUNCH.
The event was tagged, ‘Mobilising Nigerians in the Diaspora for National Development.’
Aregbesola said, “The Nigeria Immigration Service also had their fair share of the pandemic which affected passport issuance.
“We have launched an electronic temporary passport to ease the burden of Nigerians.
“By May 31, all outstanding passport applications will be cleared. We are also looking at domesticating passport printing to avoid a shortage of booklets for renewal and new passport collection.
“Also, from June 1, the collection of passports will take six weeks and this will allow us to carry out due diligence.”
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, assured Nigerians abroad that diaspora voting may be realised soon.
He said Nigerians abroad were part of the county and as such should be allowed to exercise their franchise.
The minister disclosed that the Independent National Electoral Commission and the National Assembly were currently working to make this materialise.
He said, “NIDCOM is working closely with the relevant committees of the National Assembly and relevant stakeholders, particularly INEC, to allow those in the diaspora to vote in Nigeria, and I remain very optimistic that in no distant future, we should be able to allow the participation of Nigerians in the diaspora in our national elections as obtained in other climes.
“INEC and the National Assembly are working to fashion out ways to actualise diaspora voting in Nigeria.”
Stating the efforts of the Federal Government towards mobilising Nigerians in the diaspora for national development, Dada said the government had created an enabling environment for diaspora investment through the annual diaspora investment summit.
He added that efforts were ongoing to establish an investment fund.
He also said plans were ongoing to capture the data of Nigerians in the diaspora, saying that the success of the exercise depended on the level of cooperation.