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I40,000 international passports still uncollected – Nigeria Immigration - VANGUARD

JANUARY 11, 2023

The Nigerian Immigration Service ( NIS) on Tuesday said about 140,000 international passports are still uncollected nationwide.

The service spokesman, Deputy Comptroller of Immigration Service ( DCI) Mr Tony Akuneme, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) , when he paid an official visit to the Alausa Passport office, Ikeja, Lagos state.

Akuneme also said about 40,000 of the total 140,000 are in the Alausa Passport office .

According to the service spokesperson, majority of the uncollected passports had wrong phone contacts and untraceable addresses.

Akuneme implored applicants to process their international passports by themselves, using correct details and without involving racketeers.

He noted that it was wrong perception, to say that getting fresh or renewing international passport was very difficult.

“Inspite of  the extensive awareness embarked on by NIS on passport application and its processes, some Nigerians still patronise racketeers or consultants to process their passports, which usually does not workout well.

” Some applicants are gullible, they fell into the hands of touts who duped them of their hard earned money,” Akuneme said.

He pleaded with Nigerians to visit https://passport.immigration.gov.ng/application, to process their passports themselves.

“:I still want to emphatically plead with passport seekers not to use consultants, racketeers, nor masqueraders while processing their international passports.

” Most of  the contact numbers inputted  by these unethical human beings are not real,” he said.

He implored applicants, who had applied before July 2022 and were unable to obtain their passports to visit NIS website to lodge a complaint. 

Delta Introduced Fast, Free Onboard WI-FI - THISDAY

JANUARY 11, 2023

Delta Air Lines said it would offer fast, free Wi-Fi in partnership with T-Mobile to all customers on board most domestic mainline flights beginning from Feb. 1 2023 and would be the first major US airline to offer free Wi-Fi as a core element of its customer experience.

The airline also said it would offer the service on more than 700 Viasat-equipped aircraft by the end of 2023. Delta also announced plans to bring free Wi-Fi on international and regional aircraft by the end of 2024.

“At work, at home and everywhere in between, connectivity is essential to daily life, and your journey on Delta should be no different,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian at CES 2023 in Las Vegas. “Our vision has long been to deliver an experience at 30,000 feet that feels similar to what our customers have available on the ground.”

Designed to fuel Delta’s vision of more personalized travel, customers will log in using their Delta SkyMiles account or join SkyMiles on the ground or in the air for free to connect. 

“At T-Mobile, we believe staying connected while traveling should be an easy, seamless experience,” said Mike Sievert, T-Mobile CEO. “T-Mobile customers already get free in-flight Wi-Fi and now we’re partnering with Delta to bring that experience to all customers — regardless of their wireless provider — so that anyone flying Delta can enjoy online access from takeoff to touchdown.”

Delta also announced its plans for Delta Sync Exclusives hub — a new SkyMiles-unlocked mobile platform coming this spring aimed at elevating the in-flight connectivity experience with exclusive offers, access and entertainment from beloved brands that are mainstays of everyday life. Delta will launch Delta Sync Exclusives hub later this spring.

 Delta has long used technology as a tool to further its mission of connecting people and to redefine consumer expectations.

Working with engineers from Viasat — the satellite internet service provider behind the airline’s connectivity revolution — teams at Delta have applied a rigorous approach to testing, learning and scaling best-in-class in-flight connectivity, with an eye toward rolling out the new system on more routes at an unprecedented scale by the end of 2024.

From development to implementation, the scale of the airline’s global operation required a Delta-led team of engineers, developers, designers, product leaders and technicians working tirelessly to build, install and deploy an ecosystem of technologies fit to unlock the future of travel.

“We didn’t just want free Wi-Fi to offer base-level service – we wanted it to be transformative for the entire onboard experience,” said Bastian. “It is imperative all customers onboard can enjoy their favorite content just as they would at home, and we’ve put this system through meticulous tests to make that possible.”

Green Africa to Operate Double Daily flights to Ilorin - THISDAY

JANUARY 11, 2023

Green Africa, Nigeria’s value airline, has announced that it is increasing daily flights to Kwara state, Nigeria’s “state of harmony”. Starting from January 11, 2023, the value carrier would have two daily return flights into Ilorin from Lagos and Abuja, respectively. With the additional capacity, customers will have the flexibility to travel in the morning or evening and a clear option for a day return trip.

Green Africa said it currently operates over 120 weekly flights to eight destinations in Nigeria (Abuja, Benin, Akure, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Owerri, Lagos & Ilorin), with plans to expand to more destinations in 2023.

Green Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Obiukwu Mbanuzuo said: “Ilorin is a very important market for us, and we appreciate our customers for continuing to choose us as their preferred partner for their travel plans. This additional capacity from Lagos and Abuja into Ilorin will offer our customers more flexibility, while they continue to enjoy Green Africa’s affordable products and industry-leading on-time performance.”

Green Africa, which recorded the best on-time performance for five out of the past six months, won the “Corporate Governance Award” at the 2022 Aviators Africa Conference and Tower Awards Ceremony, organized by Aviators Africa.

Customers can enjoy low fares by visiting greenafrica.com to book their next flights early.

Solving passport dilemma for Nigerians in Diaspora - THE GUARDIAN

JANUARY 13, 2023

By Olalere Ayinla

Nigerians in the Diaspora with expired international passports heaved a sigh of relief recently when the Federal Government announced that they are free to board from their countries of residence as well as return to Nigeria unhindered. 

This positive development is as a result of a number of latest revolutionary initiatives launched by the Federal Ministry of Interior and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that removed the impediments that had made home-coming difficult for many holders of expired Nigerian passports, in the past. 

In continuation of the implementation of numerous reforms on passport administration and immigration services by the Federal Government, a novel scheme called the Diaspora Fast Track Programme, was rolled out recently to address the challenges of expired international passports faced by many Nigerians living abroad.

The special programme, which began on December 12, 2022 and available till January 31, 2023, secures passage for Nigerians and their families living abroad with expired Nigerian international passports to board at their countries of residence and be admitted into Nigeria with their expired passports, without any let or hindrance. 

In order to get the required diplomatic support for the novel initiative, the Comptroller General of Immigration, Isah Jere Idris, had in a circular dated December 9, 2022, intimated the Minister of Foreign Affairs, all Heads of Foreign Missions, all Immigration Attaches, all Airport Comptrollers and all airlines (local and international) of Federal Government’s approval of  the special programme.

The fast-track programme also allows holders of expired Nigerian passports to renew their passports as well as apply and obtain the new enhanced Nigerian e-Passport under two weeks while in Nigeria. No extra fee is charged for the Diaspora fast track service; they are required to pay the applicable official fee only.

Prior to the launch of the Diaspora Fast Track Programme, overzealous airline staff were not allowing Nigerians holding expired passports to board at their countries of residence,  despite the international best practice, which states that citizens with expired international passports can travel to their countries of origin unhindered. As a result, many Nigerians living abroad including students could not re-join their families back home in Nigeria. 

Also, even under the previous waiver whereby the Federal Government allowed Nigerians holding expired passports into the country, the arrangement put in place to ensure returnee Nigerians with expired passports renew their passports upon arrival in Nigeria used to take a longer time. Because many of them have a short time to stay in Nigeria, a lot of them were unable to renew their passports and many got stuck in Nigeria. Some unscrupulous middlemen also abused the situation.   

With the fast-track service, however, the narrative has changed for the better. In addition to allowing Nigerians in the Diaspora with expired international passports to come back home, they also now renew their expired passports in just two weeks, at no additional cost. 

To this end, NIS has set up a very simple, seamless and transparent process which includes the setting up of dedicated Diaspora Desks at International Airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt to offer fast-track services exclusively to Diaspora Nigerians to renew their passports during their period of short stay in Nigeria.

All they need do is, upon arrival in the country, they should proceed to the Diaspora Desks at the airports to commence the process of passport renewal by giving their details to the NIS personnel there. A fast-track letter indicating date of biometrics’ capture and returnee’s preferred Passport Office will be issued immediately. Then apply through the online registration portal, https://www.passport.immigration.gov.ng, by completing all the required fields. 

Applicants should ensure they supply the correct information as contained in their supporting documents including the National Identification Number (NIN) because mismatch of information will render the application incomplete. They are also required to make payment for preferred passport type online via the approved payment channels/platforms only. Then proceed to the chosen Passport Office and tender the fast-track letter; the Passport Office will fast track biometrics’ capture and the production of passports, all within two weeks. 

The Diaspora fast-track service also entails the opening of Passport Offices on Saturdays to ramp up production of passport booklets to clear the backlog of applications in line with the directive of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. 

With the special arrangement, Passport Offices from December 3, 2022 to January 28, 2023, open between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to speed up passport production resulting in the production of more than 5,000 passport booklets in just two weekends. The flagship Ikoyi Passport Office alone is reported to process average of 800 booklets, while other Passport Offices across the country also deliver appreciable numbers of passport booklets.

Another step to solving the passport challenge is the approval by the CGI, Isah Jere Idris, for the deployment of passport controllers to Ondo and Ekiti states to enhance service delivery to clients in those states.

Public Relations Officer of the NIS, Anthony Akuneme, reiterated that all these new measures were aimed at making things easier for travelling Nigerians and urged holders of expired Nigerian passports in the Diaspora to take advantage of the kind gesture by the government without any further delay.  

He reaffirmed that holders of expired Nigerian passports must renew their passports because anyone with expired passport would not be allowed to travel out of the country in line with global travel protocols, saying the special Diaspora Fast-Track Programme was in demonstration of government’s care for the welfare of the citizens, whether at home or abroad. 

Akuneme allayed the fear of those who have yet to obtain the new enhanced Nigerian e-Passport, saying holders of the old Nigerian passports could still travel with them so far such old passports were genuine and validly issued by the Nigerian government.

He also assured Nigerians in the Diaspora, as well as other classes of travellers that there are enough passport booklets to meet their demands, adding that NIS has also opened multiple channels of communication to enhance service delivery. To this end, he said applicants with any complaints can reach the NIS by tweeting at @nigimmigration or send an email to [email protected]

Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, applauded the steps, saying they would go a long way in alleviating the burden of Nigerians living aboard who want to come home.

Federal Government’s commitment to improve passport and immigration services in the country has resulted in the implementation of several reforms including the rollout of the new enhanced e-Passport with Polycarbonate Data Page and 25 security features, making the Nigerian international passport more respected globally; and the commissioning of centralised passport production centres in Ibadan and Enugu, which has helped to uptake availability of passport booklets.

Others include improved online passport application process (portal and timelines); improved secured (online) payment solutions that eliminate the activities of middlemen, touts, racketeers and fraudsters; online appointment-based enrolment for passport after payment; Passport Application Tracking (PATs) solution and opening of passport front offices in Alimosho (Lagos State), Daura (Katsina State), Oyo (Oyo State), and Zaria (Kaduna State).

Also included are sensitisation of operation irregularities at passport centres including the arrest and disciplinary actions on errant officials; establishment of passport contact centres and digital channels; instituting a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for passport processing; policy on admittance of Nigerians with expired passports; sequential passport application processing and the launch of fast-track Diaspora service.  Ayinla, a former Deputy Editor with a national newspaper and a social commentator, wrote from Ikeja, Lagos.

German House Prices Drop for First Time in More Than a Decade - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 14, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s housing boom is over as prices for residential properties dropped for the first time in over a decade.

A measure of home valuations fell in December by 0.8 percentage points from the same month a year ago, according to data released by the mortgage technology provider Europace AG on Thursday. That’s the first decline in the company’s EPX index for the month since 2009.

The drop in housing prices highlights how much the situation in the German real estate market has changed since the European Central Bank started last year to reverse a decade of low and even negative interest rates. The move has doubled or even tripled the cost of mortgages, pricing many consumers out of the once red-hot market for homes.

The amount of new loans for house purchases in Germany dropped 30% in the four months following the decision last July to raise interest rates for the first time since 2011, according to ECB data. The central bank has since increased rates three more times, lifting its deposit facility rate to currently 2.0% from -0.5% before the summer. 

The change in fortunes is also reflected in the German Real Estate Finance Index, which fell in December to its lowest level since the measure of property sentiment was started in 2011.

Air Peace, Ethiopian Airlines to restore direct flights to China - THE GUARDIAN

JANUARY 14, 2023

By Wole Oyebade


All things being equal, Nigerian flag carrier, Air Peace, and Ethiopian Airlines are due to restore direct commercial flight services on Chinese routes after about a three-year break.

While the leading carrier in Africa, Ethiopian Airline (ET), has scheduled full-scale services for February 6, its Nigerian counterpart is sorting out preparations for flights into the foremost global manufacturing hub.

After three years of self-imposed isolation, China, this week, lifted pandemic restrictions on foreign travels, though with cautious optimism globally, over another wave of “least understood” infections in parts of China. The arrival of international flights from Mainland China has reactivated COVID-19 travel protocols in Europe and over 20 countries.

Not unmindful of safety concerns, The Guardian learnt that Air Peace has begun arrangements to restore its Lagos-Guangzhou flight services and due to announce take-off date soon.

ET said that the frequency of its flights to Chinese cities would increase by February 6.

“We are glad that we are ramping up the frequencies of our flights to Chinese cities, thanks to the easing of flight restrictions by the Government of China,” said Ethiopian Group CEO, Mesfin Tasew.

Tasew reiterated that China is one of the largest markets for Ethiopian Airlines outside Africa, and the increase in flight frequencies would help revive the trade, investment, cultural and bilateral cooperation between Africa and China in the post-COVID era.

“Thanks to our large network across Africa, the increase in the number of flights to Chinese cities will bring Africa and China closer. We are keen to further expand our service to China going forward,” Tasew said.

Ethiopian Airlines will operate daily flights to Guangzhou while increasing its weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai to four each and maintain the thrice weekly operation to Chengdu.

Starting from March 1, the flights will surge back to the pre-COVID-19 levels with daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai as well as 10 and four weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu respectively.

Accordingly, Ethiopian will operate a total of 28 weekly passenger flights to China when the services are fully restored.

In addition to its passenger flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, Ethiopian is also operating freighter flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Changsha and Wuhan.

China Reports Almost 60,000 Covid-Related Deaths in a Month - BLOOMBERG

JANUARY 14, 2023

(Bloomberg) --

China said almost 60,000 people died at medical institutions from Covid-related causes since early December, offering some clues on the cost of an abrupt and ill-prepared shift of its virus policy. 

A total of 59,938 deaths were reported at hospitals across the country between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12 linked to Covid-19, according to the National Health Commission on Saturday. Of these, 5,503 died from respiratory failure and 54,435 died from other diseases but were infected with Covid.

China Finds No New Covid Variants But Mutation Threat Lingers

The average age of those who died was 80.3 years and more than 90% of them had other diseases including cardiovascular diseases, advanced tumors and metabolic diseases, the commission said. The number of deaths of the elderly is relatively high because of increased incidence of respiratory diseases and aggravation of cardiovascular diseases in the winters among older people, said Jiao Yahui, an official at the commission. That, coupled with Covid infections, aggravated the situation, Jiao said. 

It has become increasingly difficult to gauge the impact of Covid in China as authorities stopped the frequent release of data and recently adopted a narrower definition of a Covid fatality — only those who die from respiratory failure caused by the virus are counted. 

Reports of surging deaths across a swathe of the country on social media suggest the actual number of those who died from the infection may be much higher than the official count.

--With assistance from Michelle Fay Cortez.

Nigeria commits to issuing passports within 6 weeks of biometrics capture, clear backlog - BIOMETRICUPDATE.COM

JANUARY 16, 2023

To tackle the country’s backlog of passport applications and urge applicants to stick to official processes, Nigeria’s passport authority has promised that passports will be issued in three to six weeks of the applicant’s biometrics being taken, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). It is also creating a taskforce to deal with 100,000 uncollected passports.

However, this only applies to submissions for which there are no anomalies with the applicant’s National Identification Number (NIN) or technical hitches.

The announcement was made at the inauguration of an e-passport production facility in Kano, in the north of Nigeria.

A statement by NIS Comptroller-General Isa Jere was delivered by Assistant Comptroller-General for Passports Sadat Hassan. Jere stated: “We reiterate our official position that Passport applicants should please avoid using third parties but go online and make their applications/payments themselves at passport.immigration.gov.ng.

“We will continue to deal with the challenges of recalcitrant touts as well as few bad eggs amongst the personnel who are bent on sabotaging the reform process.”

Previous reports from Nigeria tell of the struggle to get a passport. Not just long waits, but scams and even official staff obfuscating the process by rejecting online applications and instead selling paper forms. The country’s forex issues were also making it difficult to buy in enough materials.

The NAN report also suggests that the time promise is only valid for applications to overseas missions submitted by the end of January. The Guardian reports that a Diaspora Fast Track Programme is allowing Nigerians to return to their home country on expired passports, and even initiating applications for replacements as soon as they land back in the country via Diaspora Desks.

Meanwhile, assistant comptroller generals are being dispatched to regional offices with high numbers of unclaimed passports to tackle the more than 100,000 unclaimed credentials across the country, reports The Guardian.

Commercial capital Lagos accounts for 40,000 of them, with Benin and Port Harcourt regional offices also seeing documents pile up.

Incorrect contact details and the use of agencies are being blamed. Jere also blamed compatriots for not appreciating the importance of passports as credentials, concluding “Nigerians should be aware that the Nigerian passport is more than a travelling document; it is a personal identity and a personal security asset of the holder, and the sanctity of the process of obtaining it must be protected,” as quoted by The Guardian.

Passport processing defies FG’s 6-week timeline - BUSINESSDAY

JANUARY 16, 2023

Many Nigerians are still facing long waits for passport processing despite the six-week timeline promised by the Federal Government eight months ago.

New applicants and those who want to renew their passports now spend between three and six months processing passport applications at the offices of the Nigerian Immigration Service across the country.

According to BusinessDay findings, getting an appointment alone for the biometrics capturing at the passport office now takes between five and eight weeks, depending on the backlog of applicants awaiting biometrics processing in that particular office.

After biometrics, many applicants now spend another four months waiting for their passports to be ready for collection.

It was also discovered that the recently unveiled express window, which the Federal Government said will take a processing timeline of 72 hours for an applicant who has done the biometrics capturing, now takes about three to four weeks after paying an extra fee of N15,000.

“I applied online for the renewal of my expired passport on December 29, 2022, and I was given February 2, 2023 for a biometrics appointment at the Festac passport office in Lagos,” Gbenga Yemi, a fashion expert, said.

Yemi, who applied for the passport processing online without the help of an agent, said at the time he applied in December, the whole of January 2023 was no longer available for biometrics appointments as it was already fully booked.

According to him, the delays in getting a Nigerian passport are worsening by the day showing that the NIS is being overwhelmed by the number of applicants requesting passports.

Confirming this, Francisca Udochukwu, who took four of her children to the Festac Passport Office in Lagos for capturing on December 28, 2022, told BusinessDay that she applied for her passport and those of her four children in mid-October, only to be given biometrics appointment for December.

The delay is also being experienced in other passport offices across the country. The Ikoyi Passport Office, which is the biggest in Lagos, is also facing a surge due to returning students who are waiting to collect their passports.

BusinessDay investigations show that on a daily basis, the Ikoyi office gives out an average of 800 passports but has over 1,400 demands. In comparison, Festac and Ikeja issue about 1,000 passports daily and have over 1,800 demands.

Abuja, which has over 1,300 demands, gives out an average of 500 passports daily, while Kano, Asaba, Ogun, and Ibadan, which also rank top in the mobility of passports, give out 500 passports altogether with almost 1,500 demands.

Other states give out an average of 2,000 passports daily, with over 3,500 demands. This implies that on a daily basis, passport offices across Nigeria give out nothing less than 4,800 passports daily, totalling about 24,000 passports weekly.

In Umuahia, the Abia State capital, applicants are forced to pay N60,000 for what they termed ‘normal processing’ of a 32-page five-year standard passport, which officially costs N26,000 to process.

Despite the exorbitant fee charged, applicants also have to wait for a minimum of six weeks before the NIS will start processing the documents.

However, if an applicant wants fast-track, he or she will have to pay N80,000, and the timeline is about one week.

In Abuja, the story is similar as passport racketeering still prevails at various immigration offices.

When our reporter visited the NIS headquarters along Airport Road in Abuja, a man who claimed to be a staff of the service told our reporter to “bring money first, then your passport follows.”

“To get a 32-page passport for five years is N60,000, non-negotiable. Just pay the money to me, and I will start the process. If you cannot pay, then you will have to follow the normal process, which costs about N30,000, and it can take forever for you to get your passport. So, if you want to wait for months, no problem, the ball is in your court,” he said.

Narrating her experience, Amaka Orji, a beauty expert, told BusinessDay that she had a sad experience simply because she followed the normal process and refused to bribe any official.

She said: “I brought all the required documents and paid, that was around the end of the third quarter of 2022. I was told to come back in a week’s time for biometric capturing and others, but that was the beginning of the story. Each time I got here, I was told my documents were still being processed and that lasted for more than two months. The next thing I heard was that the booklets were finished. I was so angry and frustrated because of the time and energy I spent.

“The last time I came here, I insisted I must be attended to, and that was why I am making progress now. Hopefully, my passport will be ready next week.”

A government official who identified himself as Adamu said he does not work with the NIS, but can help our reporter to process his passport.

“If you want to get it the normal way, it will take a long time, and you would not know how long it will take. You will have to keep coming to the passport office. Passport booklets will soon become scarce; so the earlier, the better. Passport offices are usually crowded and more people are trooping in for theirs. Just use your money to get what you want,” Adamu added.

Read also: How corrupt, tardy process prolongs passport pickup

Meanwhile, in the Festac office in Lagos, an applicant who identified himself as Anthony told BusinessDay about his ordeal, which he blamed on his refusal to bribe the passport officials.

“It has been an endless wait for six months now. I did my capturing in August 2022, and till this January, nothing to show for it. I have visited the passport office at least once a week since I did my capturing, and they have been telling me that my passport is not ready. I don’t understand how something that should not take up to three days to get has lasted for over six months,” Anthony said.

Continuing, he said: “I have principles and as a Christian, I will never bribe anyone because of my passport. I registered online and also made payments online, after which I came for capturing in August 2022, when I was told that there was a scarcity of booklets. They however asked if I was interested in paying an extra cost of N20,000 for fast-track, which I declined since I was not in a hurry.”

He said since August, he had been visiting the passport office weekly for his passport but all to no avail.

He said one of his friends was captured in November and he got his passport in December because he agreed to give some of the officials some money to help facilitate the process.

Anthony, who is a businessman, told BusinessDay that he had lost some money and customers because of the time he wasted at the passport office.

Why Nigeria’s passport scarcity persists - BUSINESSDAY

JANUARY 16, 2023

BY  


It is being reported now that the issuance of new or renewal of passports which would normally take 48 hours is taking about two to three months now, depending on the state the application is made.

This delay could have effects on air travel and businesses. There is the possibility that the ministry of internal affairs and indeed the Passport Office must be facing some form of internal crisis.

These crises could range from insufficient skilled manpower at the passport offices across the country to the land border posts and the airports.

There could be other reasons like in the career progressions where there are preferences for development to the border posts than to the passport offices. It is also possible that the ministry of internal affairs has not conducted recruitment to fill the passport offices as it would to the airports where most prefer.

Overall, there would be some form of pressure on the few that are available, with fewer skills possibly to handle the increase in the current flow of demands caused by those who are leaving the country in droves because of the political instability and the insecurity in the country.

This in particular is a major cause of the increase in demand and pressure on the passport office staff. The doctors fall more into the category of those living in thousands and wanting new passports or renewing their passports; so are other professionals leaving to look for greener pastures.

If there had been passport issuance and renewals in thousands before weekly, the demands now could be in tens of thousands that would require a longer period than the normal 48 hours.

Many of these new demands too possibly have not got their National Identification Number and would need to line up separately at the passport offices to get this done; this sure will add to the period of waiting.

Also, the cost of production for these passports, which are done outside Nigeria, could also be a factor.

In Nigeria, approved fees for the new passports are as follows: a 32-page five-year standard passport will be sold for N25,000 or $130 for the oversea applicant, a 64-page five-year standard passport for N35,000 or $150 for the oversea applicant, and 64-page 10-year standard passport at N70,000 or $230 for the oversea applicant. These fees however exclude bank charges.

However, passport applicants in Nigeria end up paying more than these amounts.

Many have asked why a country’s passport, which is one of the very few means of identification with paper as its major component, could cost so much for the average salary earner in the country. The reasons are not farfetched.

Security is one major thing, among many others, that would make passports very expensive. Just as it cost Nigeria’s government so much to print the naira currencies, it also cost the government so much to print its passports.

The passport booklet paper offers appropriate ruggedness and absorption characteristics. Fibres with fluorescent properties (visible under UV light) are mixed into the paper pulp during the paper manufacturing process to serve as a security feature. They may be visible (coloured fibers) or invisible under normal light.

The bulk of the passport document includes the cover and end pages (glued to the inside of the cover) and the pages that hold the visa and entry as well as exit stamps. And for those that have not yet migrated to polycarbonate, the paper will also form the basis of the all-important data page, which includes the holder’s details and portrait.

Other features of the paper include the watermark, UV ink, latent image, photochromic ink, rainbow colouring, micro print, and security laminate.

Read also: Nigerian passports among 20 worst to hold in 2023 – Report

To maintain an effective defence against the menace of counterfeiting, all these paper elements need to be given careful consideration. As ever, success will ultimately lie in making it as complicated, time-consuming, and expensive as possible for forgers to copy or compromise a legitimate document.

The security nature of the passports is to prevent stolen identity by insiders and outsider threats, and these are the reasons for printing them beyond the national territories where security can be guaranteed from countries with integrity.

Most developed countries we know also print their national currencies and passports from more credible countries than theirs.

The scarcity of passport books may be another major cause of the issuance delay to many and which can affect businessmen that want renewals and not necessarily those for new passports. Old businesses are those that can be affected but these businesses can continue to be done online without travelling.

The new businesses are those that may be affected if only they would have no significant impact on the economy.

If the scarcity continues, air travelling will reduce because of the regular travellers, and this could have an impact on international travelling passengers’ traffic figures and therefore commercial aviation earnings both on local, international, and the Economic Community of West African States commerce.

Ojikutu is a security consultant and secretary general of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative

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