… As Senate Mandates Foreign Affairs, Interior Ministries to Increase Centres for Passport Renewal
The Senate has considered a motion by Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo South) to urgently remove the difficulty faced by Nigerians in diaspora when renewing their travelling passport.
According to Urhoghide, Nigerians in countries such as United States of America, Canada, Italy, the Uk and Austria face hardship whenever they want to renew their passports.
He lamented that, there are only 4 centres in the US where Nigerians can renew their Passports.
“Only four centers serve the whole of the United States is enough problem in itself until we have to consider the fact that Nigerians in the remaining forty six states in the US have to travel to the center closest to them, or sometimes to a center cheaper in monetary terms to access.”
Also, Urhoghide said due to the number of insufficient centres, some Nigerians spend days on the road un-end to the renewal centers from their places of residence, a situation which affects their jobs, finances and even safety of life.
“All of the passport renewal applicants spend months trying to renew expired passports. The only ones who get speedy attention are those that pay to the middlemen or directly to the embassy officials”, he said.
He further added that, “in some or all of the renewal centers, there exist middlemen who are either working with or for officials of the Nigerian Embassies.
“This is especially true of renewal centers 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.”
According to him, “visa issuance, passport renewal and several other services rendered by the Nigerian Embassies in many countries of the world have been turned into rackets by Nigerian officials and their foreign partners who connive to make life unbearable for their kinsmen that they were employed to serve.
“Payment for the renewal is done by using credit/debit cards of the holder or owner only for himself or herself. Payment for the children or any other family member is done using money order and this money order has to be sent by post. This has recorded missing money order and other hardships to parents and guardians.”
The Upper Chamber thereby resolved that the Committees on Interior and Foreign Affairs to engage the Ministers of both the Interior and Foreign Affairs Ministries, the Comptroller General of immigration, with Ambassadors and Consular Officers of the countries.
The committee have been saddled to charge the appropriate bodies to ease the process of renewing passports by increasing the number of centres, remove the existence of middlemen and to hold regular assessment of the activities of Nigeria’s foreign mission.