The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reclassification of international passport in the country to accommodate current realities and meet the needs of various segments of the diverse Nigerian society. The new regime presented by the Comptroller General of the NIS, Mr. DS Parradang, at an interactive session in Lagos, introduces a 64-page passport to cater for frequent travellers, which would run concurrently with the 32-page passport with holders only allowed to have one of the two. As part of the process of launching the new scheme, the service would today issue the 64-page passport to President Goodluck Jonathan and subsequently to other Nigerians who fit the profile of frequent travellers.
According to Parradang, the need to initiate the new scheme became imperative in the course of administering the e-passport regime after its introduction in 2007. “Our operational experiences revealed the obvious need for additional measures and reforms to further strengthen the system against possible abuse and enhance the security features as well as the credibility of our travel documents.
“Consequently, after series of meetings with NIS technical partners and other stakeholders, the Service recommended to the federal government and requisite approval was recently secured for the implementation of the reforms,” he said. Apart from the increased volume of the pages of the travel document, the reform also introduced slight changes in the cost of obtaining the “Nigerian standard passport,” with due consideration for children, the aged and gender sensitivity, which include: a N20,000 charge for the 64-page passport; N8,750 charge for 32-page passport for Nigerians who are 18 years old and below; N15,000 charge for 32-page passport for Nigerians between 18 and 60 years of age and N8,750 for 32-page passport for people above 60 years of age.
Other modifications include a N20, 000 additional charge for change of data or loss of passport; N8, 750 for change of name due to marriage, divorce and deceased spouse as well as a N30, 000 charge for change of data on request. According to Parradang, arrangements had been concluded for the implementation of the reforms to take effect from August 1. “Furthermore and in line with the NIS tradition, Mr. President has been requested, through the Minister of Interior, to launch same with the issuance of the 64-page passport to him before the commencement of issuance of the facility to the public,” he said. The NIS boss stated that following the transition from the MRP regime to the e-passport system and particularly to ensure that Nigerians in diaspora did not have problems with their residence status as a result of the phasing out of the MRP, the NIS embarked on a massive e-passport intervention programme in several countries where Nigerians live in large numbers.
“It may be expedient to point out that this initiative by the NIS has become a veritable tool for diaspora engagement with the attendant developmental benefit to Nigeria, as it has obviously enabled a restoration of hope and confidence in the Nigerian system among members of the Nigerian diaspora who are made to enjoy the dividend of democracy at their door steps in their countries of residence,” he explained.