Passport Revolution: Nigeria’s Interior Minister Unveils Automated Application System

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Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, declared that the much-anticipated automation of the passport application process is set to kick off within the next week. This revelation comes after the minister had initially shared the ambitious plan during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on October 4, with a projected launch date in December. However, in a return to the program on Tuesday, Nov. 28, Tunji-Ojo excitedly disclosed that the technological advancements had reached a remarkable “99 percent done” stage.

The minister detailed, “In fact, we’ve done the testing and we should be going live in the next one week or thereabout. As I said, that will ensure that Nigerians, all they need to do in an immigration centre, a passport centre, is just biometrics, just to take your fingerprints, that’s all.”

What sets this development apart is the accessibility factor. Tunji-Ojo assured Nigerians that they can complete their passport applications from the comfort of their homes. This includes the ability to upload passport photos and necessary supporting documents, promising a streamlined and user-friendly process.

While addressing delays in the initial rollout, Tunji-Ojo highlighted the importance of precision. “We would have gone live about two weeks ago but I saw some errors when they came to do a presentation and I said, ‘You know this cannot be this,’” he explained. This underscores the commitment to ensuring a flawless system before its public release.

The minister emphasized the delicate equilibrium between national security and convenience, stating, “We’re talking about balancing national security as well as convenience. There must be a middle point. You cannot bring discomfort on the basis of enhancement of security. You must find a meeting point of both security and comfort.”

In a bid to further modernize immigration processes, Tunji-Ojo made a bold promise. By February 2024, all Nigerian international airports will be equipped with e-gates. “Once you’re Nigerian and you’re coming to Nigeria, you will have no business seeing an immigration officer, except if you’re a person of interest,” he assured, outlining a vision of seamless travel experiences for Nigerian citizens.

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