Dele Ogbodo in Abuja
The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Mr. Muhammad Babandede yesterday said Nigerians would now have to pay more for their international passports.
According to him, the hike in fees was necessitated by the high cost of producing the booklets abroad, which had become unsustainable and uncompetitive under the current dispensation.
Babandede made the disclosure at the flag off of a capacity development programme for 500 immigration officers on ICT organised by the NIS in conjunction with Huawei Technologies in Abuja.
He said it had become increasingly difficult for the immigration service to pay for the passport booklets outside the country because of the fall in value of the naira.
“You will agree with me that air tickets have doubled, you are also aware that a lot of things have changed, but the passport fees have not changed. We cannot afford to service these passports with the current charges,” he said.
He added that service delivery would improve as soon as the federal government approves the new fees for the passports.
The production of the booklets, he said, is done under a private partnership arrangement and is not funded by government.
While acknowledging that NIS is a revenue generating agency, he said government’s investment in the NIS was limited to the work force and the offices that it provides, adding that funding of the booklets is handled in conjunction with a private sector company.
“Government is not giving any money, but we are revenue generating agency. If we continue this way, government will not get any revenue.
“Our intention is to make sure that these changes take place and we will improve the efficiency of service delivery.
“We will bring more booklets and we will make sure that services are done within a stipulated time, but this will only be possible when services are reviewed,” he said.
He urged the officers to take advantage of the ICT training by Huawei to improve their skills and improve service delivery in the organisation.
He said: “The future of NIS rests on ICT in 2017. There will be no more manual examinations, as they will now be computer-based.”
According to him, the NIS has 84 issuing passport centres in the world, all connected to a single database, which has the biometrics of six million persons.
He said nine million passport booklets had been issued because about three million persons have two passports, adding that with the ongoing biometric registration, such abnormalities would be eliminated.
He added that NIS had surpassed its 2016 revenue target by N6 billion, disclosing that it made N25 billion in 2015.