Nigerians face delays, frustration as Lagos immigration office imposse restriction on passport processing - NAIRAMETRICS
It is not uncommon to hear Nigerians complain bitterly about the national passport acquisition process. “I have waited five months to collect my passport, still not ready”, said Charles (not his real name), a school teacher who spoke to Nairametrics at the National Immigration Service Passport Office at Alausa, Lagos State.
Charles, who wants to further his education abroad had been visiting the office since May this year to collect his passport after ‘capturing’ two months earlier. However, his document is still not ready, frustrating his efforts to apply for an education visa.
Longer processing time for international passports by the Nigerian Immigration Service has stalled the plans of many Nigerians who seek to jump on the #japa trend, in search of greener pastures. This has caused some people to cut corners in order to get their passports faster, which in many cases yielded no positives.
It is not news that Nigeria is currently experiencing a massive wave of intellectual flight otherwise known as ‘Brain Drain’, following the worsening state of the economy and the society at large.
Among the festering conditions Nigerian youths have had to deal with that make staying in the country near unbearable, are the ever-rising prices of goods and services; a protracted strike by university lecturers popularly called ASUU Strike; rising unemployment and insecurity.
While most youths are leaving the shores, Nigerians at top management levels in their respective organisations are also leaving their jobs, selling their properties in other to ‘japa’, which they have attributed to seeking a better environment for their children.
However, many more Nigerians have to endure long wait times and queues to collect their international passports, which is a pre-requisite for applying for any visa in the first place. In this article, Nairametrics compiles the experiences of some Nigerians who have expressed their angst at the situation.
What they are saying
- In a conversation with Mrs. Damilola, an HR personnel working in Lagos State. She explained that she had to travel to Kwara State in other to “capture’ for her international passport, due to the reputation of delay and long queues in the Lagos State offices. Damilola, who is a nursing mother, had to travel by road to Kwara State, before she could complete the process of capturing.
- “I am on my way to Ilorin, Kwara State now to do my biometric capturing, because I cannot handle the long queues in Lagos, as I am a nursing mother. Also, many of my friends who have registered for some months now, have not been able to collect their document, which is something I do not have so much time for”, she said.
- Rose, on the other hand, expressed her frustration as she complained of the stress, she had gone through just to collect her international passport.
- She said, “I did my capturing in April this year and my supposed collection date was in May but I have been coming back and forth all to no avail. I am a working-class lady and I have people waiting on me as well.”
- “It is so tiring that I had to tweet the social media handle of the passport office and I got feedback that there is no application for April that has not been treated, but coming down to the office is a different story entirely,” she added.
- Similarly, Adeola, a mother of 3, who was processing for a family passport explained that she has been on the process for months and was asked to pay N15,000 each in order to fast track the collection process but she chose not to as she can’t afford that for herself and her kids.
- “I have been here since 7am waiting for my name to be called for collection as today is my supposed collection day but surprisingly, only about five applicants are called for collection while about 50 applicants will be called for capturing. The worst part is that there is no guarantee you will even collect it after waiting and wasting all day. It is so tiring and the system is just too corrupt,” she said.
- In a conversation with Njoku, a fresh applicant, he explained that he applied through an agent in June and he was told to come for capturing on the 24th August, 2022 and he was assured he will get his international passport ready for collection by the next day as it is urgently needed for this travel process outside the country.
- “I paid about N100,000 for processing a 64-page passport which is normally around N70,000, so I’m certain I paid for fast-tracking the process as the agent promised to ensure I get the passport in 24hours,” he said.
“I paid N25,000, and I applied directly. I am sure the people who applied through an agent paid more,” said Kayode, who just completed his National Youth Service. He also mentioned how an agent he approached in the Abeokuta office asked him to pay N45,000. “Maybe it would have moved faster if I used the agent, but I’m not in a hurry,” he added.
Dolapo on the other hand said he paid N45,000 for his international passport (32 pages). “We paid N45,000 each, me and my friends”. However, the higher fee did not reduce Dolapo’s wait time. He applied in March, his biometrics was captured in May, and still here in August, waiting to collect the document.
He also bemoaned the long wait times, adding that to move any faster, you either had to pay more or know someone on the inside. Both Kayode and Dolapo opined that the wait times did not need to be that long, insinuating that the delays often prompted people into paying extra to fast-track the process.
“They should have digitized the process long ago. It’s a shame”, a rueful Kayode stated. “Look at all these people. They either have jobs or run businesses, but they will spend the entire day here. A whole day of productivity lost. I will have to work overnight to make up for the time I have spent here.”
He considered the effect of all the lost man-hours on the economy, taking into account that all the people who were spending the entire day in the queue were not at work. “When people work and make money, they pay taxes. When they are not working, it’s not just them losing money; the country also loses. How much revenue gets lost here?”
Why the delay?
- The delay in the processing of passports in the country could be attributed to the increased security features for the passports after the EU and US imposed restrictions due to how easy it was to fake Nigerian passports.
- Recall that the federal government launched the e-passport in 2021, in a bid to curb forgery and improve the process of application. In other words, the improved security features should help improve the standing of the Nigerian passports.
- Also, Nairametrics gathered from a source in the Lagos passport office that a blanket ban was placed on the issuance of passports processed after 2021, so as to clear the backlogs of applications.
- However, cost issues may be contributing to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) ordering in bulk to meet the demand for passport booklets.
- Also, the scarcity of new Nigerian passports with enhanced security features is being worsened by the dollar shortage. Note that Nigeria is currently facing a huge FX crunch as a result of forex scarcity, which has seen the exchange rate depreciate significantly in recent times. Considering that these improved security measures would come at a higher dollar cost, the scarcity of FX could also impact the ability of NIS to acquire materials on time.
- There is also the issue of outsourcing the printing of international passports, which has caused a significant gap in the timely delivery of passports in the country. Despite, agreements by the federal government and its partners IRIS Smart Technologies Limited to domesticate the production of international passports, it appears that this has not been fully set into motion, hence the further delay.
Nigerians detained in Dubai, passports seized - VANGUARD
Some Nigerians who travelled to Dubai were detained at the airport and their passports seized.
Few others were seen demanding answers after their passports were seized without explanation.
Others are seen sitting in an empty area as they waited to know their fate.
One of the persons here who shared the video revealed that her sister later picked her up from immigration after a “tedious process” but other Nigerians who didn’t have anyone in the country were not released.
Most airplanes in Nigeria grounded, says NCAA - PUNCH
A significant number of airplanes operating across the country are currently grounded due to the crisis rocking Nigeria’s aviation sector, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has said.
Director-General, NCAA, Musa Nuhu, who disclosed this at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, said the fleet of aircraft were grounded until their owners carried out adequate maintenance on them.
Nuhu’s statement confirmed the report released on June 30, 2022 by Ch-aviation, a global agency with database of airlines in the world, that only 44 aircraft were operating in Nigeria, while 79 were grounded at the time.
In his address at the stakeholders event, the NCAA boss stated that issues around inaccessibility of foreign exchange, hike in aviation fuel and the devaluation of the naira had worsened the fortunes of airlines and agencies in the sector.
He stated that the ongoing audit of airlines and other players in the sector by NCAA showed the precarious financial state of businesses in the industry.
Nuhu said, “When I say the industry, it also includes the agencies in the sector. We also suffer from the same issues you (airlines) suffer. Issues of revenue, foreign exchange, we all suffer.
“The NCAA has started the process of conducting the financial performance and status audits of the industry, starting with the airlines and we’ve done five so far and it makes us get the very best picture.
“We can see the difficulties and the challenges the airlines are having. We are all aware of the astronomical increase in the cost of JetA1 (aviation fuel). The international price is increasing, at the same time the naira is devalued. So it is double jeopardy.”
He added, “Even the foreign exchange is not readily available and the airlines are facing difficulties in getting it to do their transactions for trainings, maintenance, spare parts, etc.
“So a significant number of fleet in Nigeria is grounded, awaiting maintenance. We are all aware and we are not insensitive to the position of the industry.”
The NCAA helmsman noted that based on these challenges, the aviation agencies, especially the civil aviation authority, had been very flexible with the operators in order to get across the prevalent difficult situation in the sector.
Nuhu, however, stressed that the crisis in the sector would not be allowed to tamper with aviation safety measures that must be upheld by all airlines.
“It is important that this financial difficulties that the airlines are facing and have been managing have not translated into technical and safety issues,” he stated.
“We have seen a bit of the trend and it is quite worrisome and we must put an immediate stop to them. That is why we have been discussing and giving some sort of waivers to the industry so that we can cope with this.”
Dubai's Emirates to resume Lagos flights after Nigeria releases funds - REUTERS
DUBAI, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Emirates will resume some flights to Nigeria this month after the Central Bank of Nigeria released a portion funds the Dubai airline had earned in the country but had not been able to repatriate.
An airline spokesperson said flights to Lagos will resume from Sept. 11, though it is not possible to resume flights to Abuja in September because resources had already been stood down.
"We continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance," the spokesperson said, welcoming what it said was the central bank's move to release a portion of its blocked funds.
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The airline did not say how much money had been released or how much remained blocked.
The state-owned carrier last month announced it was suspending all flights to Nigeria from Sept. 1 after it said it had made no progress with local authorities to access its funds.
Nigeria's Central Bank later said it had released $265 million to airlines to settle outstanding ticket sales.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the largest airline group, had said that by July Nigeria was blocking airlines from repatriating $464 million in revenue.
Delta To Suspend Flights To Nigeria From New York - YAHOO NEWS
by Brunno Braga
Delta Air Lines announced this past Monday that it is suspending its flights to Nigeria from New York over continuing concerns over its ability to repatriate money currently locked in this African nation. The airline says that it cannot afford to continue operating this route without receiving payment from the return trip from Lagos to JFK. With operating costs increasing, this profitless flight costs the airline more and more every month. The route will enter its temporary suspension on October 4th.
“Delta is suspending its nonstop service between New York-JFK and Lagos to fit the current demand environment,” Delta said in an official statement.
The Atlanta-based airline however said that it continues to operate flights to Nigeria from Atlanta and offers onward connections to New York and other cities across the United States.
“Customers impacted by our suspended New York-JFK to Lagos service will be re-accommodated on Delta -operated flights or services operated by our joint venture partners. Delta remains committed to the Nigeria market.”
Delta also informed that it will no longer accept the Nigerian naira. All tickets between the USA and Nigeria will be sold in USD only and only available via online booking so that the money does not remain trapped in Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has not responded specifically to the service suspension but has claimed it does not have sufficient foreign currency reserves for airlines to withdraw.
In fact, other carriers such as Emirates and British Airways operating in Nigeria had previously expressed concern that large sums were being held up in the country due to the inability to access repatriation funds. In order to meet the demand from international airlines, the Central Bank of Nigeria released 265 million dollars to settle outstanding ticket sales, the monetary authority confirmed in a resolution issued this month. However, this amount of money is only half of what airlines have been able to remove from the country.
Cash-strapped consumers opting for package holidays in tough times, says Jet2 - YAHOO FINANCE
Bosses at Jet2 have said that cash-conscious consumers turning to package holidays during tough times could bring in more customers.
Package holiday customers made up a significantly higher proportion of total departing passengers in summer 2022, up by 13 percentage points compared with summer 2019, the low-cost airline said.
It also reported that it has a strong winter ahead, with forward bookings matching levels in the same period in 2019.
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The airline told shareholders it is on track to meet market expectations in terms of its yearly profits.
This is despite the business warning of pressure on its margins in the short term as a result of economic uncertainty and recent travel disruption.
Executive chairman Philip Meeson told Jet2’s annual general meeting on Thursday he is very confident that people will opt for package holidays in an effort to cut costs on their trips away.
He added that, amid the current climate of cash-strapped households, there will be more opportunities for the airline to grow its customer base.
Mr Meeson was also optimistic of travel disruption easing after a fraught summer of flight delays and cancellations, and baggage handling problems causing huge pile-ups at London airports.
In July, Jet2 criticised the chaos, describing airports and suppliers as “woe-fully ill-prepared and poorly resourced”.
At Thursday’s AGM, Mr Meeson referred again to the lack of oversight leading to the widespread disruption.
“Pleasingly, the difficult return to normal operations experienced in early summer 2022 due to the lack of planning and investment by many airports and associated suppliers has abated significantly,” he said.
In its latest trading update, the group said it was operating at a £323.9 million loss in the year to March 31, though this had narrowed by about £12 million compared with the previous year.
Jet2 is due to report its next interim company results on November 24.
The hurdles faced by refugees and asylum seekers crossing 'safe countries' to arrive in Kent - KENT LIVE
There are a lot of misconceptions about why they risk their lives to cross the English Channel instead of staying in the first country they arrive in. While some people will try to settle in Greece, Italy or Hungary, others decide to move on to France, Sweden or the UK for a wide range of reasons.
Charity Care4Calais has been supporting refugees living in Britain, Northern France and Belgium for years by providing warm clothing, bedding, food and medical assistance to people in desperate need. With refugees being forced to flee their countries due to war or persecution, the charity wants people to ask themselves: “If I had to suddenly leave home and everything behind me tomorrow, arriving in a new country without shelter and without work, which country would I go to and why?”
In a video posted on its Facebook page, the charity has tried to explain to the general public how refugees and asylum seekers end up crossing the English Channel. It describes the journey of 100 people who arrived in Europe after surviving the Mediterranean crossing and arriving in Italy.
It says: “10 immediately claim asylum. After all Italy is the first safe European country they reach. But Italy, struggling with handling the crisis almost alone, has become increasingly hostile to refugees.
“So the rest head north, they soon split into two groups. 65 head north-east, mostly aiming to reach Germany or Sweden.”
In the middle of 2021, Germany reported almost 1.24 million refugees and 233 000 asylum seekers, making it the biggest host country for refugees in Europe. In comparison, there were 135,912 refugees and 83,489 pending asylum cases in the UK as of mid-2021.
'Why does everyone want to come here?'
The video continues: “The remaining group of 25 people head northwest to France and the UK, and almost all have some connection to these countries through either language or family.
“Of those 25, on average 20 will make their asylum claim in France, and that leaves just five who walk on towards Calais. Three of them have relatives in the UK and want to rebuild their lives with their help. The fourth person’s an architect. He speaks excellent English and fears going anywhere else would mean giving up his life’s work.
“The fifth worked as a translator for the British Army in Afghanistan. He had been promised protection in return for service but then the British army left with the Taliban taking their place and threatening his life. That’s why he’s here at our doorstep.
“But what do we see from the UK side? We see five people knocking on the door and not the other 95 dispersed around Europe - and so we ask, why does everyone want to come here?”
Dozens of UK flights cancelled due to strike by Lufthansa pilots - P.A.MEDIA
BY Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
German airline Lufthansa has cancelled around 800 flights on Friday – including dozens serving the UK – due to a pilots’ strike.
Around 7,000 passengers booked on the carrier’s UK flights will be disrupted.
All 34 of Lufthansa’s services connecting Heathrow with Frankfurt and Munich are grounded, in addition to 11 flights between Manchester and Germany.
Affected passengers are entitled to be flown to their final destination as soon as possible.
They may also be entitled to compensation, as consumer groups do not believe cancellations due to strikes by airline employees fall under the “extraordinary circumstances” exemption.
Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), a trade union representing Lufthansa’s pilots, announced the walkout on Thursday in a row over pay.
It accused bosses of failing to improve on their previous proposal.
Matthias Baier, a spokesman for the union, said: “Aware of our responsibility for companies and guests, we wanted to leave no stone unturned and offered another negotiation date despite an inadequate offer and failed negotiations.
“We did not receive a sufficient offer today either. This is sobering and a missed opportunity.
“The negotiations have failed.
“The only thing left for us to do is to reinforce our demands with a labour dispute.”
Lufthansa said it has offered to raise pilots’ monthly base salaries by 900 euros (£777), and claimed the union’s demands would “would increase payroll costs by more than 40%”.
The airline’s labour director Michael Niggemann said: “We cannot understand VC’s call for a strike.
“The management has made a very good and socially balanced offer – despite the continuing burdens of the Covid crisis and uncertain prospects for the global economy.
“This escalation comes at the expense of many thousands of customers.”
Why Doctors Are Leaving Nigeria In Droves – NMA - DAILY TRUST
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) said poor salaries and a lack of a conducive working environment forced many medical doctors and health workers to leave Nigeria for other countries with better remuneration.
NMA National President, Dr Uche Ojinmah stated this in an interview with newsmen on Thursday during the opening ceremony of the 2022 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association held in Gombe.
He said doctors in Nigeria are underpaid and lack the basic equipment and conducive environment to work, hence they choose to leave the country for greener pastures, a development that causes the shortage of manpower in the country’s health sector.
Dr Ojinmah also decried the underfunding of the healthcare facilities by the Nigerian government, decrying that the country is yet to implement the 2001 Abuja declaration that recommended the allocation of 15 per cent of the budget to the health sector.
“In 2001, all the heads of states in Africa gathered in Abuja and held a meeting on how to improve the health sector. And at the end, they had a declaration that 15 per cent of the annual budget of every nation should be dedicated to health care.
“Unfortunately, since that time, Nigeria, the country that hosted the meeting could not implement that declaration. So, it is obvious that they know what to do to make it better, but maybe for political reasons, they are not,” he decried.
Dr Ojinmah noted that in order to improve health indices in the country, there was the need for government to increase funding for the health sector through the provision of equipment and adequate manpower in all the health facilities across the country.
He also emphasised the need for medical personnel to be well remunerated and provided with a conducive environment to practice their profession, “So as to reduce the massive brain drain that has hit the medical profession.”
The NMA president added that the association was disturbed over the activities of quacks among medical doctors, saying the association was collaborating with directors of medical facilities to rid the health sector of quackery.
African Genes More Than Double Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Says - BLOOMBERG
BY Bloomberg News,
(Bloomberg) -- African men, as well their descendants, are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer because of their genetic makeup, two studies released this week show.
The research, published in the journals Nature and Genome Medicine, found that the DNA of African men is more predisposed to the presence of so-called structural variation, putting them at increased risk of severe forms of the cancer.
This helps explain why a man in sub-Sharan Africa is 2.7 more times likely to die of prostate cancer than the global average and may be the first cancer genome resource of its kind to include African data, researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Pretoria said.
“Our understanding of prostate cancer has been severely limited by a research focus on Western populations,” said Vanessa Hayes, a genomicist at the University of Sydney. This study has “significant implications for ancestral consideration when managing and treating prostate cancer.”
More than two million cancer-specific genomic variants were identified in 183 untreated prostate tumors from men living across Australia, Brazil and South Africa, according to the study.
“Through African inclusion, we have made the first steps not only toward globalizing precision medicine, but ultimately to reducing the impact of prostate cancer mortality across rural Africa,” said Riana Bornman, a professor at the University of Pretoria and clinical lead of the study in South Africa.