Nigeria wants to begin producing biometric passport booklets at home
The Director General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Idris Jere has hinted that the federal government has given directives for biometric passport booklets to soon be produced in the country.
Abuja-based biometric and ID solutions company Iris Smart technologies currently has the contract for supplying the passport booklets but the assemblage and production is done in Malaysia, writes All News.
According to Jere, taking over the process will in some way curb passport booklet shortages, although he also blamed the federal government’s foreign exchange policy for being part of the problem.
Addressing an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives recently, Jere said the problem was also caused by the “foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and the CBN [Central Bank of Nigeria’s] refusal to grant access to forex for importation of the passport booklets.”
The ad hoc committee was set up in 2022 to investigate passport booklet shortages.
The officials said it was challenging that the NIS generates “forex from the sale of passports but we do not have access to buy the same booklet.”
Nigeria wants to hand over the passport booklet production to the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing (NSMP), a security printing company established by the Nigerian government in 1963.
Jere suggests that as the government plans for the change, it is important to make the transition smooth enough to avoid any contractual imbroglio with Iris Smart Technologies.
In the past, booklet shortages have led to reports of corruption in the passport issuance process in Nigeria as agents use the situation to exploit desperate passport applicants.
Last month, Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola said the federal government was aware of the hassles involved in the passport issuance process and was working to clear them.
Uganda last year started a process to fully set up its state printing press to produce passports, driver’s licences and ID cards at home.