The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, addressing the virtual conference on Saturday (8 May) /Photo; Dolapo Ogundiran

Nigerians with expired passports can come home and renew at the airport – Minister

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has announced that Nigerians living abroad who have difficulties renewing their expired passport and want to travel home could do so with the document.

Aregbesola said government was conscious of the difficulties Nigerians were experiencing with passport renewal due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it was committed to alleviating the situation.

“It is in this regard that the NIS [Nigerian Immigration Service] recently granted a waiver for Nigerians with expired passports desirous of coming to Nigeria to do so without fear of harassment by airlines.”

The minister made the announcement while speaking at the inaugural Diaspora Quarterly Lecture of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) at the weekend.

To ensure a hitch-free renewal of the expired passports when their holders arrive in Nigeria, the NIS would soon set up front offices at the country’s international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt, he revealed.

“The front office is a new concept which is aimed at helping Nigerians who arrive the country on expired passports to have their passports renewed immediately at these airports,” Aregbesola said.

In response to widespread complaints about the delay in the issuance of passports in Nigeria and at the country’s missions abroad, the minister said the NIS was working to ensure that all outstanding passport applications were cleared by 31 May.

“To ensure efficient and effective service delivery to Nigerians, we have recently reviewed the passport issuing process with a view to streamlining the process for better performance while also eliminating the activities of touts who in recent times have portrayed the NIS in bad light,” the minister said at the virtual conference, at which Nigerians across the globe participated.

“Some of these reforms include:

a. All passport applications and payments are to be made online;

b. Effective June 1st, all passport application and issuance will take a period of six (6) weeks. This is to enable the NIS carry out due diligence on all applications received;

c. Applicants will be informed via email and SMS on the status of their applications and;

d. The introduction of Express Centres to provide Premium service to Nigerians. The first of its kind has taken off in Maitama Abuja and more will be replicated in every local government in Nigeria soon.”

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The event with the theme ‘Mobilising Nigerians in the Diaspora for National Development’, which took place on Saturday (8 May), is the first in a series of lectures organised by NiDCOM on critical issues of concern to Nigerians living abroad.

Among other dignitaries who spoke at the online confab include the Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, and Dr Bashir Obasekola, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, who spoke on behalf of the global Nigerian diaspora community.

Established in May 2019, NiDCOM is the agency responsible for the engagement of Nigerians in the Diaspora in the development of Nigeria.

Femi Awoniyi

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