Home News N600m saved with automated passport system – Tunji-Ojo

N600m saved with automated passport system – Tunji-Ojo

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Minister of Interior, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo has announced a series of reforms aimed at modernising the country’s immigration services, noting that the ministry has saved the government millions of naira through an automated application system.

As a guest on Episode 2 of ‘Unfiltered: The Big Interview’, a YouTube interview series hosted by O’tega ‘The Tiger’ Ogra, and released on Saturday, the minister detailed plans to automate passport applications, introduce home delivery for passports, and implement advanced passenger information systems at airports.

He said, “When we came on board in August last year, it was about stock-taking because I always say this, as a professional, you spend more time planning so that execution can be pretty easy and we’ve been able to do that across all our agencies and today, the short-term goals that we had for ourselves we’ve been able to achieve that.

“For example, in Immigration, the short-term goals include clearing our backlog of over 204,000 passports that we inherited, we cleared that in slightly over two weeks, less than three weeks we’re able to do that and under President Bola Tinubu, we made sure that passport backlog has become something of the past that will never happen again.

“We went through our automation process which is basically broken into three different stages but in terms of our short-term target, it’s achieving the first two then the midterm target is, of course, the third one which is where we are now.

“We’ve achieved the first one, which is, of course, automating the application process that has started saving the government billions of naira because I’ll give you an example. We used to pay for archiving of documents, but today, we have automated that process that applicants now upload by themselves.

“When you calculate that, for archiving alone which is about N200 that we used to pay per applicant and by about three million passports a year, that’s about N600 million. So, we have saved government of that money and yet it’s even more convenient for people because people can now do that on their own and we moved now to the stage of even uploading passports and all these other things”.

He added that the ministry is “about to go live in the next couple of days” with a home delivery system for passports.

The minister also highlighted the implementation of the Advanced Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) system, which allows immigration officials to pre-profile travellers before they arrive in Nigeria. “When you come into Nigeria, our scrutiny is now objective”, he explained.

“What it means basically is that if you’re a terrorist or you have a questionable background, you can’t come into Nigeria. So we’ve been able to do that, and as I speak with you, the command and control centre for the air border control management system is 100% ready. If you get to NIS headquarters, you will see it.

“Just two weeks ago IATA came all the way from their headquarters in Canada and they took a facility tour you know of the of this facility and the IATA representative said it clearly that this is one of the best command and control centre any anywhere in the world. That makes me happy as a Nigerian”, he added.

Tunji-Ojo also revealed plans to streamline the visa application process, promising that in the next couple of weeks, once a person is in need of an e-visa to Nigeria, in a maximum of 48 hours, they would get their visa.

He said, “We have just completed our visa counter, and we centralise the process of procuring visas to ensure more security to enhance our national security. Nobody gets a visa to Nigeria now, you know, without going through Interpol 24/7 and other international criminal database systems, so we want to profile you.

“We are taking away the power of subjectivity away from officers just on the desk in various embassies and we’re taking giving them what we call an objective platform you know to be able to do what they’re supposed to do and of course, with what we have done now in the next couple of weeks we have finished the whole process development.

“Once you need an e-visa to Nigeria maximum in 48 hours, you get your visa to Nigeria. We are automating the process instead of days, instead of weeks and months, instead of you having to lobby to come into Nigeria.

“We’re opening the space you know to legitimate and legal law-abiding people to come to Nigeria, explore the beauty of Nigeria, see our tourism, see the good feeling and see how wonderful a host we as people are”.

These reforms, according to the minister, are part of the government’s efforts to enhance national security while improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

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