Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, on Monday in Abuja debunked claims that Nigeria’s international passport booklets are in short supply.

Aregbesola made this statement at the fourth edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard 2015-2023 Series organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture. The scorecard series was launched by the ministry to showcase the achievements of the present administration.

The minister gave the assurance that enough booklets are available for those who had applied for passports and had been captured or were yet to be captured.

He further said that the government stopped the 24-hour passport services because of the criminalities and sharp practices involved in it.

“Some criminalities had occurred before we came and that has affected the Nigerian psyche on passports. Passports are the most secure identity document of any nation.

”It is the document that the president of the country attests to its first page recommending the citizens for good consideration from whoever comes across them. So it is not just a document to play with. It is the symbol of the sovereignty of a nation,’’ he said.

Aregbesola stated that there are differences in the way passports are issued by countries across the globe.

“In America, it takes 15 weeks to process, in Britain it takes 13 weeks and Japan is a country that has the shortest period for passport processes in the world, one week,’’ he said.

The minister said the minimum period for processing a passport in Nigeria is six weeks to allow the appropriate authority to carry out diligent security checks.

Aregbesola said the real challenge with the passport application process is the bottleneck in the processing system.

“I will not deny the fact that we do not have enough processing centres and we are working on that.

“Lagos and Abuja are so problematic because we have limited processing centres. Lagos has three processing centres whereas the state ought to have a minimum of 20 processing centres.

“We are working on a partnership with the private sector to provide only front office services where Nigerians can readily and easily do capturing for their passports while the main issuance will be for the Immigration.”

The minister reassured Nigerians within and outside the country of efficient service delivery in the issuance of international passports. (NAN)

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