Interior Minister Inspects E-Gate at MMIA, Explains Importance of FG’s Data Centre

*107,000 passports abandoned by applicants, says NIS

Chinedu Eze

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, yesterday inspected the newly-installed electronic gates (E-gates) at the new international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, and also explained the importance of the data centre built by the federal government.

This is coming as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mrs. Kemi Nandap has disclosed that about 107,000 passports were still in NIS offices not collected and urged Nigerians who applied for the passports to come and collect them.
Tunji-Ojo, however, said by June, the home delivery of international passports would begin.
The e-gates allow automated entry to passengers at security checkpoints and identify individuals using either iris (eye) scanning, fingerprint scanning or facial scanning and also reduces the check-in time of passengers.

Speaking to journalists after the inspection, Tunji-Ojo expressed satisfaction with the ongoing installation and said that when completed, it would be as efficient as the one already completed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
“Lagos has three wings. This is Terminal 2. We have the D and E wings. Now you see that the gates have been installed. What they are doing now is called the User Acceptance Test (UAT) which is the last stage and by Monday morning (tomorrow), this wing would have been completed 100 per cent. As it is, it is already installed,” he said.

“In the next three weeks from now, Lagos will be 100 per cent good to go, then we will move to other airports like Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt, which each have four gates. This will be faster. Lagos airport alone has 21 gates. Lagos is where you have the major traffic,” the minister said.
He identified the importance of the E-gate, which includes improving security, easy passenger facilitation and others.
“The electronic fares are important because of the enhancement of national security. This is connected to all the databases all over the world. We are making life easier for Nigerians and at the same time securing the country. The passengers get more comfortable and it is more convenient but at the same time the nation is secured.

“Secondly, it enhances ease of doing business. It also helps with perception of the government. When you travel to New York and you get to JFK (Airport), as a foreigner, you are in the queue. The American carries his passport and goes in easily. That gives him lots of confidence that he is in his country. This is called sweet experience and this president is bent on giving Nigerians the sweet experience. It is about changing the narrative and telling us that things we see in other places can work in Nigeria,” the minister said.

On why passport delivery is still being delayed despite promises and assurances he made, the minister explained that the government had completed the solution but realised that the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) data was not domiciled with the agency but in the hands of a private organisation.
“We have completed the whole solution but when we came onboard, we realised that the NIS, the data centre, was not really there. We were leveraging a private company data centre and we appreciate them for that assistance. We think that it is better to create a permanent solution to problems rather than quick fixes.

We could have done it in February but we had to build our data centre from scratch to be able to keep the integrity of our data and national security intact. This is more important. It is about national security and I can assure you that we have completed the data centre, which is one of the biggest in Nigeria.”
“We have done all these and by June we should be able to start,” he added.

“It is disgraceful that NIS is 61 years old and NIS is not custodian of biometric data of Nigeria and we believe that NIS should be in charge of the data of Nigeria. It is not acceptable that this data is domiciled in a third party and that is why we have been able to do this,” Tunji-Ojo said.
He also disclosed that the final presentation of the e-visa was done yesterday, which would reduce the visa processing time from 72 hours to 48 hours and make it easier.

Also speaking, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mrs. Kemi Nandap has disclosed that about 107,000 passports were abandoned by applicants.
“If you have applied for passports, please go and pick your passports. We have over 107,000 passports that have been produced and applicants have not picked them up,” she added.

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