WONDERS! Something Is Happening In Ikoyi Passport Office
If you are trying to renew your Nigerian passport or getting a new one for the first time, chances are that you have been discouraged many times.
The information available to you is that the process is slow, frustrating and costly across the states, especially in Lagos.
So, you have been told that as a Lagosian, your best bet is to travel to Abeokuta, Ibadan and other neighboring state capitals to get it done.
Guess what, the Ikoyi office of the Nigerian Immigration Service might just have become a better option for you.
A group of journalists had visited to renew their passports and were wowed by what they saw – friendly staff, orderliness and fast turnover time for passport applications.
It now takes less than three days for an applicant without issues in his or her file to procure an international passport.
Seriously? In Lagos? Something must have happened. So, they dug deeper and realized that there is a new sheriff in town by the name Manir Yari.
He is a Deputy Comptroller of Immigration (DCI) and the incumbent Passport Control Officer (PCO) in Ikoyi.
"Upon assumption of office, some of the challenges he met on ground were backlog of files, which had been lying unattended to for several months," an officer said under condition of anonymity.
He did not stop there.
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"One of the major challenges, however was the epileptic power supply. In the past, the office had no electricity at all as the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) had cut off the light for several months, leaving them at the mercy of only generators.
"Also, with the backlog of unattended files, there was a lot of pressure coming from all cadres of the society for the production of their long-awaited passport applications."
Touts took over the office and the media, as you know, did not spare the officials. But how did they turn all that around?
First, Yari addressed their electricity problem and introduced 24 hours operations in the production unit.
They also introduced Saturday operations by the issuance/collection unit to enable large number of applicants to collect their passports on non-working days.
Then, the new boss set up a performance target for the units and individual officers of the units and added a deadline for the clearance of the backlogs.
Noteworthy is the launch of the cashless policy at the office by the Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI), Muhammad Babandede in July 2018, which was a major game changer that shut out the touts.
The constant supply of booklets from the headquarters in Abuja also the became the icing on the cake.
Now, paying your passport fees at the Ikoyi office can only be done through a POS machine, a development that has won the heart of many applicants.
It has also incurred the wrath of few elements within the Immigration system whose stock in trade is to extort passport customers through delay tactics.
The good ones among the officials say they have been receiving several commendations from numerous applicants. They are fulfilled, applicants are becoming more satisfied, everybody is happy.
The best part of this new lease of life is that the issuance of the passport with 10-year validity, which was one of the promises made by the CGI would soon take off.
One major lesson the Ikoyi passport office has taught us is that making a system work in Nigeria is not rocket science. Public officers only need to have the will to do their jobs diligently.
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