FG To Review VISA, e-Passport Policies

Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro, said yesterday that there was urgent need to review the policy for acquiring the country’s Visa and electronic passport in conformity with the global economic configuration

Moro made the submission during his maiden visit to the corporate headquarters of the Immigration Service in Abuja.

He explained that if stringent measures such as due process, necessary consultations among other procedures were adopted by the authorities concerned, the country would be safe guarded against undesirable element-migrants.

He maintained that if the country’s dream of winning the battle against insecurity must be realised, the procedures for acquiring the travel permits issued by the various diplomatic embassies must be urgently changed in order not to stop eligible persons with good intention of travelling from doing so and vice versa.

It would be recalled that the Minister of Foreign Affairs recently gave a 3-day ultimatum to the various embassies operating in Nigeria to hasten the process of issuing out travel permits to eligible citizens, who had applied for the papers but were subjected to punishment and delay several months after tendering their requests.

On the call, by the Comptroller General of the Immigration service, Mrs. Rose Chinyere Uzoma, for the upward review of the price of the electronic passport to ensure the successful delivery of the project considering the exchange rate of the dollar which she said was affecting the total cost of the project as some components of the e-passports are priced in dollar, the Minister said it might be counter-productive and charged the service to have a re-think over the call.

Throwing more light on what necessitated the call for the upward review of the e-passport, the Immigration boss explained that at present, the electronic passport was the cheapest cross the world, a development which she further said had undermined the country’s position as the first African Country to adopt the electronic document.

Uzoma who lamented that Nigeria’s present Visa policy no longer served the country’s interest in the global economy, harped that there was urgent need to push through the recommended review which was expected to play a major role in the present administration’s transformation agenda.
While also expressing appreciation to President Jonathan for approving the service recommendation to increase the deployment of Immigration attache’s to the country’s missions abroad from 10 officers in five countries to forty six (46) officers in twelve additional countries, prayed the Minister to use his powers to fast-track the passing of the reviewed Immigration Act as well as the long due construction of the passport control plazas.

Reeling out the challenges facing the service, Uzoma identified inadequate training of manpower, logistic challenges and inadequate funding as major factors hampering effective service delivery of the service.