The Senate is making moves to make it easier for Nigerians in diaspora to renew their passport documents.
It specifically wants to make it possible for Nigerians to be able to renew the documents abroad via post.
The lawmakers also want more centres where passports can be renewed abroad as well as the removal of ‘middlemen’ in the process.
These are some of the resolutions the lawmakers took on Wednesday after they deliberated a motion on the “urgent need to remove the difficulty faced by Nigerians outside of the shores of Nigeria in renewing their Passport” sponsored by Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South).
The move by the Senate comes at a time when Nigerians both within and outside Nigeria have decried difficulty in the process of obtaining a new travel passport as well as renewing one.
An investigation by this paper in 2017 revealed not only the difficulty involved in the process but the corruption and extortion that reigns at immigration passport offices.
Leading the debate, Mr Urhoghide noted that Nigerians abroad, especially in countries like the United States of America, Canada, Italy, the UK and Austria, find it difficult to renew their passports leaving some of them on the road for days. And the only ones who get speedy attention are those that pay to the middlemen or directly to the embassy officials.
“Nigerians are made to physically present at these renewal centres to be able to renew their passport. The reason given for requiring physical presence is that applicants need to be captured electronically for the new passport. This excuse is not tenable since fresh capturing should not be demanded of someone who already has his captured bio-data in the database;
“In some or all of the renewal centres, there are middlemen working with or for officials of the Nigerian Embassies. This is especially true of renewal centres in the US and Italy as videos of this practice are awash on social media. In all the cases, these middlemen are not Nigerians and demand for money from Nigerians to book for them a capture (interview) date with officials of the embassy,” he explained.
Mr Urhoghide said visa issuance, passport renewal and several other services rendered by the Nigerian embassies abroad had been turned into rackets by Nigerian officials and their foreign partners who connive to make life unbearable for Nigerians, an act he described as unacceptable.
While stating that officials of the Nigerian embassies are culpable, the lawmaker said one of the ways to stop the hardship is if renewal by post is introduced and pursued with the diligence that it requires.
The motion was seconded by Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti South).
The Senate thereafter mandated its Committees on Interior and Foreign Affairs to engage the Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Comptroller General of Immigration with Ambassadors/Consular Officers of the countries specifically indicted to consider making it possible to renew travel passports documents abroad by post and increasing the number of centres where passports can be renewed abroad; and removing the existence of middlemen.
All parties are also to hold regular or periodic assessment of the activities of Nigeria’s Foreign Missions.
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