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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Federal Government is considering several innovations to making obtaining the country’s International Passports easier, The Eagle Online has gathered.
The Eagle Online learnt over the weekend that a memo to that effect is likely to go to the Federal Executive Council any moment from now.
The Nigerian Immigration Service, headed by Mohammed Babandede, oversees the issuance of the country’s international passports, while the Service is under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau as Minister.
The Eagle Online learnt that part of the reforms being considered is the increase in number of years of validity of the passport.
For now, the Nigerian passport is valid for five years.
It was gathered that a validity of 10 years is being considered.
The Federal Road Safety Corps just introduced such innovation.
The validity of the Nigerian Driver’s Licence before now was three years.
But now, drivers have a choice of three or five years.
This came along with different charges for the two categories.
In the case of the international passport, The Eagle Online was also told that the Federal Government may also approve an increase in cost once the validity period is increased.
This will also be running alongside the implementation of the two types of international passport booklets.
While one is 32 pages, which had been in existence before now, the other is 64 pages.
A source told The Eagle Online: “It has also been discovered that a lot of Nigerians are paying far more than the official rate of N8,500 for the international passport because they go through ‘agents’ who demand all manner of gratifications.
“So if we make it official, it will make it easily accessible to the real end users.”
In the bid to also discourage going through middlemen, there is also a proposal that Fast Track Centres be created for those who want to obtain their passports under 24 hours.
Sources told The Eagle Online that such centres would eliminate those who have been frustrating the efforts of the government at reforming the passport issuance process.
In addition to this, it was gathered that to make the booklets easily available, the process of having the booklets produced in Nigeria has commenced.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, it was learnt, has instructed the company that supplies the booklet, Iris Smart Technology Nigeria Limited, to start discussion with the Nigerian Security, Printing and Minting Corporation with the aim of producing the booklets in Nigeria.
ISTL’s Malaysian parent company, Iris Corporation, it was learnt, produces the booklets in Malaysia and South Africa, sometimes resulting in scarcity of booklets.
The Eagle Online was told that NSPMC has confirmed its ability to produce the booklet locally.
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