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Aregbesola decries racketeering, delay in passport administration

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[FILES] Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola. Photo; TWITTER/RAUFAAREFBESOLA/OGUNDIRANDOLAPO


Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has expressed sadness that despite various reforms introduced by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the nation’s passport administration was still fraught with fraud, racketeering and delay.

Aregbesola, who spoke in Enugu during the commissioning of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Enugu State Command Office Complex, which was attacked and damaged by arsonists during the #ENDSARS protest last year, noted that the reforms introduced to better the system had been under serious attack by strange interests.

The minister charged officers of the Service and citizens who applied for passport to ensure that the integrity of the document was maintained at all times. 

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He said: “Nigerian passport is the highest affirmation of Nigerian citizenship; that is why the integrity of that document is of utmost importance to us. In light of this, can we really say we have best served the Nigerian citizens in passport issuing and renewal? We all know this cannot be true. The process is still fraught with racketeering, fraud, delay and mistreatment of the applicants. This should not be so. We must trust ourselves. From the highest of us to the lowest of us, we must ensure that Nigerian people get service and I am strict about it.

“You are all aware of the reforms being put in place in passport administration. But as with all reforms that challenge the status quo and strange interests, which involve societal corruption, there has been resistance and little progress is being made sadly.

“We must all subscribe to the reform; doing the right thing requires making sacrifices and getting out of our comfort zones. This does not apply to our officers alone. People who equally apply for this document must exercise restraint and exhibit some decorum. If you insist on inducing these officers, it is also possible for them to receive.”

Emphasising on service, the minister noted that the objective of NIS is to serve Nigerians, adding: “At the heart of government credibility is service to people. The Nigerian people are the boss; you must take pride in serving them, not in exploiting them, not in bullying them, not in undermining them. The Nigerian people are unmistakably the boss. This consciousness must permeate the way you conduct your business and the way you relate with the people.”

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Describing the NIS Enugu office complex as the biggest in the country, the Minister thanked the state government for the gesture, urging officers in the Command to ensure its maintenance. 

He said: “I must thank the government of the state for this provision. This is the biggest Command I have seen in terms of space in the country. As we are thanking the government of Enugu, we are urging the officers here to plant trees. Register your name; if you are an officer here, plant a tree to register your name before you leave here. That’s my charge. You must plant a tree that must bear your name in this facility.” 

In his speech, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, represented by the Deputy Governor, Cecilia Ezeilo, pledged the state government’s willingness to continue to partner and support NIS and the Federal Government in securing the people of the state.

Earlier, the Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammed Babandede, thanked the government and people of Enugu State for their support and directed the officers and men of the Command to continue to be loyal and patriotic to the nation in the discharge of their duties while also being vigilant. He used the occasion to reassure Nigerians that the issue of passport shortage would soon be a thing of the past.

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