ID Cards: Reps’ challenge to Immigration, NIMC — Nigerian Tribune Editorial

Posted by News Express | 14 December 2021 | 545 times

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•Motion over, Hon. Obinna Chidoka


WORRIED by the inconveniences Nigerians are being continually subjected to through unnecessary delays, the House of Representatives, last week, called on the Federal Government to streamline the services of Nigerian embassies and high commissions and the charges they impose, especially on the issuance of passports and national identity cards. In particular, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Interior, through the Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and other relevant agencies, to “fully automate the processes of passport and national identity card issuance.” This, the Green Chamber said, would “reduce the incidences of physical attendance; reduce the waiting period for fresh passport issuance and for renewals to a maximum of 10 working days or less; and ensure that only statutory charges are payable for services through officially designated channels.”

In addition, the House urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to streamline the activities of the country’s embassies and high commissions towards efficient service delivery to Nigerians abroad, while mandating its committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora to investigate allegations of fraud and submit its report two weeks. These resolutions were based on a motion by Honourable Obinna Chidoka titled “Need to Streamline the Services Being Rendered to Nigerians by Nigerian Embassies and High Commissions abroad.” Chidoka had noted that Nigerian embassies and high commissions were the country’s flagship territories abroad and, as such, should project the best image of its pride and the best example of the values placed on the citizens. According to him, the deplorable level of services rendered by Nigerian embassies and high commissions around the world to Nigerians, particularly those in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in the area of passport, national identity card issuance, renewals and ancillary services were worrisome.

As Nigerians would bear us witness, we have been on this issue for long. Time and again, we have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the horrors that Nigerians have had to contend with in obtaining documents that ordinarily ought to be available on request. It is heartening that the House of Representatives is now getting involved in the matter, as there is nothing so big and complicated about issuing Nigerians with passports and ID cards. It is just that those concerned have chosen to violate the rules with impunity, knowing full well that Nigeria is a society without consequences, and where people get paid to be idle and useless. As the House noted, the treatment meted out to Nigerian citizens abroad by officials of the Nigerian embassies and high commissions has not only affected the lives and businesses of the concerned citizens, it has brought shame and disgrace to Nigeria’s image and the psyche of Nigerian citizens. The House is certainly right to be concerned about the reported incidents of extortion and fraudulent intimidation by embassy and high commission officials.

If anything, the prevailing scenario shows the appallingly low level of competence of Nigeria’s political leadership. Pray, how can  the country keep having problems about providing passports and ID cards for Nigerians who want them? At the risk of being repetitive, we state that the issuance of passports and national identity cards should ordinarily be a simple matter as Nigerians are paying for those services and those in charge should have the competence to make them available when needed.  In previous editorials, we deplored the tardiness by the Ministry of Interior and the Nigerian embassies in providing Nigerians with passport booklets months after capturing the biometrics of applicants. As we noted, it takes months for ordinary Nigerians who apply for passports in the country to get the booklets, whereas the affluent can be issued with theirs within  twenty four hours of applying for the document. And that is after paying multiples of the official price to unscrupulous officials who keep for themselves the difference between the bloated payment and the approved price.

It seems highly probable that the unavailability of Nigerian passport booklets in missions abroad has to do with the characteristic ignoble desire of civil servants in the embassies to issue the booklets to the highest bidder, just like their counterparts allegedly do back home.  We insist that if the victims of official tardiness in service delivery who live in Nigeria can always find their ways around the impacts of government agencies’ ineffectiveness, the same cannot be said of Nigerians who live in saner climes where it is virtually impossible to get away with the circumvention of processes and procedures. We support the position of the House of Representatives that this should be a seamless process that should not take more than ten days and if those in charge cannot deliver on such a seamless process, they should be thrown out of the system.

Source: News Express

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