The House of Representatives on Thursday emphasised the need for Federal Government to urgently address the challenges being faced by the supplier of the passport booklets.
The lawmakers expressed the concerns during the debate on the motion sponsored by Ayodeji Joseph, stressed the need for the present administration to devise sustainable means to ensure availability across the world in the bid to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians abroad.
To this end, the House mandated the Committee on Interior to liaise with the Ministry of Interior and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) with the view to determine the cause of the scarcity, recommend ways of reversing the trend and report back to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.
The House also mandated the Committee on Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the challenges being faced in procuring the e–passport at Nigerian High Commissions and Embassies and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.
In his lead debate, Joseph who expressed displeasure over the acute shortage of Nigerian passport booklets in the recent time, noted that the situation is “causing a lot of hardships on citizens wishing to acquire passports, thus leading to long queues at Immigration offices across the country and increased patronage of touts who hang around Immigration offices.
“The House is aware that all the components of the e-passport are manufactured abroad as evidenced in the production of the booklet in South Africa, the making of the chip by a Netherlands company that specializes in the manufacturing of secure connectivity solutions for embedded applications, and then the printing and binding of the passport booklet, embedding of the chip as well as laminating of the data page in Malaysia, before final delivery to Nigeria.
“The House is also aware that the scarcity started in 2016 when the company stopped supplying the 32 – page passport booklet and demanded for an upward review of the price of the booklet, citing increased cost of production due to the low exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar and the scarcity has persisted despite assurances by the Nigerian Immigration Service that passport booklets are available,” he stated.
The lawmaker who frowned at the series of complaints of lack of proper procedure for the procurement and renewal of passports at Nigeria’s High Commissions and Embassies abroad as well as discourtesy and inefficiency of staff of those Missions, noted that the development is giving the country a bad image.
In her remarks, Nnenna Ukeje, chairperson, House Committee on Foreign Relations while assuring that the issue will be resolved, admitted that the scarcity of the passport has to do with the manufacturers and suppliers.
Speaking in support of the motion also, Johnson Oguma (APC-Edo) called for thorough investigation and lasting solutions to the scarcity.
On his part, Bode Ayorinde urged Federal Government to do all within its power to address this issue because the passport is the face of Nigeria abroad”, Mr. Bode Ayorinde said.
While ruling on the motion, Speaker Yakubu Dogara mandated its committee on foreign affairs to liaise with the federal ministry of foreign affairs to investigate the challenges being faced in procuring e -passport at Nigerian High Commissions and Embassies and report back within two weeks for further legislative action.
Source: Business Day Online