The Federal Government says it is seriously exploring the local production of Nigeria passport booklets as part of plans to save cost and ease the lingering scarcity of the document.
Spokesperson for the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Sunday James, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
NAN reports that the passport booklet is presently being produced by Iris Smart Technology Nigeria through its parent company, Iris Corporation based in Malaysia.
James said the Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd.) had directed for the domestication of the production of the passport booklets.
He, however, did not give details of the directive, claiming that he was not privy to it.
James assured that notwithstanding the measure, the NIS was working round the clock to ensure sustained delivery and distribution of the booklets across all its commands.
“The Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, Muhammad Babandede, wishes to inform the general public and most especially those who have approached our Passport Processing Centres of recent, that the Service now has standard Passport Booklets in sufficient quantity for issuance.
“All Passport Control Officers have been directed to clear the backlog of outstanding applications,” James said.
The Press Secretary to the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ehisienmen Osaigbovo, told NAN that the minister was committed to resolving all issues relating to the passport production.
Osaigbovo said the minister had set up a committee, headed by the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, to look into the local production of the document and resolve the challenge posed by its scarcity.
He said the committee was also charged with the responsibility of exploring ways of starting the local production of the passport booklets, in view of the numerous advantages.
NAN investigation reveals that ISTL had, in 2016, requested an upward review of the price of obtaining the passports due to what it termed the increased cost of production and falling exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.
Nigerians all over the country and abroad have continued to complain about the delay in getting and renewing their international passports due to the scarcity of the passport booklets.