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Immigration reform: We didn’t spend a dime to clear backlog of passports —Bunmi Tunji-Ojo




The Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, on Thursday, revealed that he halted the strenuous conventional process of obtaining international passport in the country without spending a dime.

He disclosed that the excruciating pains witnessed by Nigerians at Immigration Offices coupled with the delay involved in obtaining passport spurred him to take the bull by the horn.

The Minister, who made the revelation while featuring on Arise Tv’s The Morning Show, noted that Passport is a right and not a privilege, hence Nigerians must enjoy their right to the fullest without any encumbrance.

“Passport is a right and not a privilege, Nigerians are entitled to it. When I assumed duty, the President charged all appointees on dedication to duty, stressing that no excuse for failure.

“Immediately, I set up a committee and I also held meetings with the service providers where they disclosed their challenges and I swung into action momentarily.

“It was revealed that Alausa alone had over 32,000 passports with only two machines. We didn’t spend any money, we only approached the service provider to be of help with more machines. We also increased our machines in Ibadan to four. We have really covered the ground and the reward for good work is more work”, he said.

The Minister also lamented that the delay in passport collection had forced many public servants to stay away from work to pursue their passports. He added that the era was over and Nigerians would now only visit Immigration office for biometrics spanning just five minutes.

“Do not pay anybody to help you facilitate Passport, it is N35,000 and N70, 000. By February, everybody will get their passports at their door steps”, the Minister said.

Tunji-Ojo also assured Nigerians in Diaspora that they would soon get the leeway in the next three weeks to get passports and resolve other issues within a very short period of time.

When asked about the decongestion of Nigeria Correctional Centres, the Minister said efforts are on to make the centres compete with those of advanced nations, stressing that about 4,000 in custody are unable to pay fine.

He said: “Immediately I assumed office, I set up a committee to review the situation and it was discovered that over 4,000 are in custody over inability to pay fines. We are working to mop up the fines and also working to prevent jail break at the correctional centres.”

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