THE House of Representatives is urging the Nigerian Government to revert to the 10-year international passport policy to check challenges faced by Nigerians living abroad over passport renewal. The house has also mandated its committee on Interior to liaise with the ministry of interior and Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, for action on the issue.
This followed the motion raised by Rep. Samson Olugbemi (Oyo-APC), which was unanimously adopted by members. Olugbemi had explained that before the introduction of the e-passport by NIS, the Nigerian passport had a five-year validity period. He said that the process of renewal of the old passport was simple and efficient as it required mere stamping by an authorised Immigration official to indicate a new expiring date.
He said that 10-year span of the Nigerian passport was in tandem with international best practices because countries issued travelling visas which varied from two weeks to 10 years. He, however, argued that arbitrary change in the new policy was inflicting hardship and inconveniences to Nigerians everywhere.
“The House is concerned that the Nigerian Immigration Service, for reason only known to it, decided to limit the validity of the new Nigerian passport to five years without any option of renewal. Therefore, instead of renewal of the passport on expiration, a new one is to be issued. The House wonders about the benefits of this change of policy, other than the selfish intentions of the NIS to increase its internally generated revenue profile.
“The house is aware that millions of Nigerians who are residing in countries where Nigeria’s passport cannot be procured due to absence of Nigerian Consular office or embassy, are stranded abroad. This is because of the expiration of their passports,” he said. The lawmaker, who called for the intervention of the house, argued that the five-year passport policy had compelled numerous Nigerians, who frequently travelled overseas, to hold passport without visas.