In a groundbreaking announcement, the Federal Government of Nigeria has revealed plans to streamline and enhance the passport application process, promising Nigerians that they will soon be able to have their passports conveniently delivered to their homes, offices, and preferred locations starting next year.
Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, unveiled this ambitious initiative on Monday during his address at the inauguration ceremony of the 2023 University of Lagos International Week in Lagos.
To bring a delightful transformation to the passport application process, Minister Tunji-Ojo disclosed that the Ministry of Interior has embarked on a comprehensive automation of the entire passport application procedure.
This move, he stated, will significantly reduce the time Nigerians have to wait before receiving their passports.
“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,” he said at the event. By implication, Nigerians will not need to wait longer than two weeks before they get their passport.
Minister Tunji-Ojo went on to outline the timeline for this transformative initiative, stating, “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.”
In addition to simplifying the passport application process, the Federal Government is also extending these innovations to visa applications. The minister emphasized their commitment to deploying advanced technology to make the entire procedure as seamless as possible, including the expansion of visa application centers worldwide.
“This, of course, would be extended to our visa application process. We are deploying technology throughout the entire process to make it as seamless as possible. To achieve this, we have set everything into motion to open more visa application centers across the world,” the minister added.
“In this regard, we are also working on strengthening our visa-on-arrival policy. We are working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enforce the principle of the doctrine of reciprocity, and a committee has been set up in the ministry to achieve this.”
Furthermore, the minister addressed the issue of data redundancy and the need to safeguard the integrity of travel documents through data harmonization. He expressed concerns about the proliferation of data collection efforts across various sectors, including the Bank Verification Number (BVN) for banking, the National Identification Number (NIN), SIM card registration for telecommunications, and the international passport.
“Identity is our essence, but currently, our data is scattered across multiple databases. Nigeria is unique in having various databases that request the same information from citizens. To restore the integrity of our travel documents, we are committed to harmonizing our data,” he stated emphatically.
The Federal Government’s announcement signals a significant step towards modernizing and simplifying the passport and visa application processes, promising greater convenience and efficiency for Nigerians while ensuring the security and integrity of travel documents in the digital age.
Nigerians can look forward to a more streamlined and hassle-free experience in obtaining passports and visas shortly.