Officials Reveal Reasons for Scarcity of Nigerian Passport
By Our Reporters
Many Nigerians at home and in diaspora have complained bitterly about the difficulties encountered in getting the Nigerian Passport despite paying the required fees.
Several measures and developments have been announced by the government officials saddled with the responsibility, in a bid to correct the anomaly but the problems are far from over.
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has fingered policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as one of the reasons for the scarcity of passport booklets.
The Comptroller-General of NIS, Idris Jere, disclosed this on Tuesday while appearing before an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the production of passport booklets in Nigeria.
Mr Jere noted that major components for producing booklets are sourced from overseas, hence the need for foreign exchange (forex) from the CBN. He informed the lawmakers that the lack of forex has affected the production of booklets.
“Foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and CBN’s refusal to grant access to forex for importation of the passport booklet………we generate forex from the sale of passport but we do not have access to buy the same booklet and that is a challenge for NIS.
“The factors responsible for the scarcity of passports include the inability to set up passport producing factory in Nigeria as its production is done abroad,” he said.
On the directive by the president that booklets should be produced by the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting PLC (NSPM), Mr Jere recommended that a proper exit plan be put in place for a smooth handover from Irris Smart Tech to prevent any breach of contract and production process.
Speaking earlier, Yinker Fisher, the CEO of Irris Smart Technology Ltd, stated that forex is the major impediment to the production of booklets.
He also accused NSPM of sabotaging the effort of the company in the production of the booklets.
Mr Fisher said that the company is being denied access to forex by the CBN acting at the behest of NSPM.
He advised that replacing Irris Smart Tech Ltd with NSPM would amount to changing the goalpost during a game, stating that Nigeria could lose investors and the global trust it currently enjoys.