The Federal Government says it is seriously exploring the local production of passport booklets in the country as part of plans to save cost and ease the lingering scarcity of the document.
Mr Sunday James, spokesperson for the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
NAN reports that the passport booklet is presently being produced by Iris Smart Technology Nigeria (ISTL) through its parent company, Iris Corporation based in Malaysia.
James said that the Minister of Interior, retired LT.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau had directed for the domestication of the production of the passport booklets in the country.
He, however, did not give details of the directive, claiming that he was not to be preview to it.
James assured that notwithstanding the measure, the NIS was working round the clock to ensure sustained delivery and distribution of the booklets across all its commands in the country.
“The Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, wishes to inform the general public and most especially those who have approached our Passport
Processing Centres of recent, that the Service now has standard Passport Booklets in sufficient quantity for issuance.
“All Passport Control Officers have been directed to clear the backlog of outstanding applications,” he said.
Mr Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, the Press Secretary to the Minister of Interior,told NAN that the minister was committed to resolving all issues relating to the passport production.
Osaigbovo said that the minister had set up a committee, headed by the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to look into the local production of the document and resolve the challenge posed by its scarcity.
He said the committee was also charged with the responsibility of exploring ways of starting the local production of the passport booklets, in view of the numerous advantages.
“You know if we produce the booklets locally, we will be safeguarding the critical database of Nigerians, safe foreign exchange and create more employment,” he said.
He further said the committee was set up to iron out all the legal issues associated with the current contract with ISTL with a view to ensuring local production and involving the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company in the production.
NAN investigation reveals that ISTL had in 2016 requested an upward review of the price of obtaining the passports due to what it termed the increased cost of production and falling exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.
Nigerians all over the country and abroad have continued to complain about the delay in getting and renewing their international passport due to the scarcity of the passport booklets.
In this NAIJ.com video, former CBN governor and Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido blasts Nigerian leaders.