Minister knocks NIS for asking married women to travel to Abuja for change of name





By Samuel Oamen

Interior minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo  has berated officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for always asking people, especially married women, to go to its headquarters in Abuja to change their names on their passports.

The minister, who described the act as “stupid”, spoke at a dinner with members of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (ABAT) Media Centre and some social media influencers in Abuja.

Tunji-Ojo said there is nowhere in the world where women are subjected to such inhuman practice on account of marriage.

The minister queried if NIS personnel in Abuja were special than those in the various passport offices across the federation.

“There is one stupid thing I have seen and it is that a woman gets married, changes her name and then she has to come to Abuja all the way from, say Kaura Namoda or Enugu, just to effect a change of name in her passport. It is absurd.

“I can’t just figure it that you want to change just your name and you have to be in Abuja. I have asked the Immigration people: is it that Immigration people in Abuja have more than one head than those in the states?” he queried.

According to him, passport issue remains the least of his worries, while there are many other issues, like the need to have more secure borders for the country, among others.

Tunji-Ojo announced that as from March, the new passport reforms he is putting in place would ensure contactless biometrics enrolment in order to allow Nigerians do their enrolments from their comfort zones.

“With the new reforms, you don’t need to travel to Abuja to change your data. Everything will be done online.

“From March, once you have ever enrolled for a passport and you are coming to renew, please, don’t come to my office; stay in your house and do it. We have contactless biometrics, and this can be done in five minutes. We don’t need to keep taking your biometrics every five years. Who does that in the world?

“This is what #RenewedHope is about. It is about positively disrupting the process. By the grace of God, the issue of passport is the least of our worries,” he said.

Announcing plans for a forum to unveil the ministry’s agenda for this year, Tunji-Ojo harped on the need for knowledge transfer and training of officers on passport issues.

The minister urged Nigerians to keep faith with the Tinubu administration, saying the President is leading the country aright.

He promised to continue to give his best to make Nigeria better for Nigerians.

“Any day I think I don’t have the zeal again, I will do what honest men do and go because Nigeria as a country does not deserve 99.9 per cent. It deserves 100 per cent from us. That is what public service demands,” Tunji-Ojo added.

Also, Tunji-Ojo has announced that the automated system would begin during a review of the NIS facilities in Abuja on January 8.

The programme intends to give applicants a convenient and secure experience while reducing human interface in the passport application process.

The minister announced this in Abuja during an inspection of facilities at the NIS in company of the Comptroller General of the service, Mrs. Wura-Ola Adepoju.

“We’re ready to go live. We are starting training. On January 8, the solution will be live and direct for Nigerians to have a wonderful feeling, a sweet experience based on Mr. President’s Renewed Hope,” he said.

Tunji-Ojo said the Federal Government remained committed to ending the use of forged documents in passport applications.

“We have been able to reduce human contact in passport acquisition to the minimum,” he added.

The minister stressed the essence of the new system in strengthening the country’s security architecture and safeguarding Nigerian residents’ comfort and convenience.

He added that the NIS had deployed document verification personnel in all local government areas across the country to improve document verification.

“This action attempts to thoroughly scrutinise passport applications and prevent the submission of fake documents.

“The automation of the passport application process is consistent with the government’s initiatives to use technology to improve service delivery and security,” Tunji-Ojo added.


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