Adibe Emenyonu in Benin-city
Due to shortage of international passport booklets at the consular office of the Nigerian Embassy in Rome, Italy, a member of the Nigeria Union Association in Italy (NUNAI), Pastor Mike Oputteh, yesterday called on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to wade into the non-availability of passport booklets issue.
He said embassy workers in Rome are under intense pressure from Nigerians, who thronged the embassy for consular services.
Oputteh, who stated this in a statement made available to journalists in Benin-city, Edo State, described as unfortunate the criticism against the embassy staff that they are responsible for the inadequate provision of passports for Nigerians as the handiwork of mischief makers, who he said were determined to undermine the effort of the Immigration Attaches in Rome, Mr Hammed Ibrahim, Mrs. Salamatu Isa and others.
The NUNAI representative, who is vying for the position of welfare officer in NUNAI, however, called for the establishment of a consular unit for effective service delivery just as he urged the Nigeria authorities to support the embassy to enable it function effectively.
He said as a group, NUNAI would continue to assist the embassy in ensuring that there is orderliness among Nigerians whenever the need arises.
Oputteh also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered the easy access to international passport in addition to a backlog of applications, adding that about 129 applicants apply for international passports on a daily basis.
According to him, “I want to on behalf of the National Union of Nigerians Association Italy appeal to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to promptly provide lasting solutions to the problem confronting the embassy.
“Truth must be told, the embassy is inundated on a daily basis of complaints from Nigerians seeking international passports and other consular services. The department, as we speak, needs additional manpower, scanning equipment and passport printing machines.”
The group also pledged to continue to collaborate and build synergy between Nigerians and the embassy in order to ensure that the rights of the citizens are protected at all times.