TOKYO, JAPAN- The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu commenced a week long official visit to Japan today with the commissioning of an E-Passport Mobile Enrollment service for the Embassy of Nigeria in Tokyo.
Senator Ekweremadu who formally handed over an E-Passport Mobile Enrollment Machine to the Mission on behalf of the Federal Government, said his decision to personally intervene in the protracted quest by the Nigerian Mission in Tokyo to acquire the capacity to process and issue international passports to Nigerians in Japan was to ameliorate the challenges faced by the Nigerian Community in the Asian country in the acquisition and renewal of Nigeria’s international passports.
The Deputy President of the Senate expressed surprise and disappointment at the inability of the Mission to attain the status of a passport-issuing centre for too long.
He said: “I was here about ten years ago as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing to understudy the housing policy of Japan with my colleagues. I met Ambassador Adamu Aliyu who made this challenge known to me. I reported this to the appropriate authorities at the time, but only to be told about two weeks ago by the current Ambassador that the Mission was still facing the same challenge.
“I had therefore taken it upon myself to bring the machine here since I was visiting, but the Honourable Minister assured me that the machine would be in Tokoyo before my arrival. I am therefore grateful to the Honourable Minister of Internal Affairs for keeping his promise.”
The Deputy President of the Senate explained that although the attainment of an E-Passport Enrollment Service status alone was not enough, it was a necessary progress. He promised to personally ensure that the Mission acquired all the requisite capacity to be able to produce and issue international passports in earnest.
“Now, I have also been told that we needed a passport production machine. But I think we have taken the right step because if you come to a restaurant and they give you a starter, it means that the main dish is on the way”, he reassured.
He stressed that Japan was one of the G-8 countries, hence the lack of the capacity to produce and issue Nigerian passports in the country was totally unacceptable.
Senator Ekweremadu emphasised that “any person who is working in any environment is entitled to the tools with which to render services; otherwise, it would be a waste of public funds to keep people in a place without tools to work because they will get paid for doing nothing”
The Deputy President of the Senate assured that the National Assembly was ready to support Nigerian Missions with adequate budgetary provisions to ensure that they acquired the requisite capacity to perform their legitimate duties.
Earlier in his address, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Japan, Hon. Godwin Agbo expressed gratitude to the Deputy President of the Senate for his fruitful intervention at very short notice, and promised to utilise the machine effectively for the benefit of Nigerians in the Japan.
The Ambassador explained that due to the remoteness of Japan, Nigerians often got trapped in the country as they would have to wait until the Embassy was able to secure intervention teams from Nigeria or nearby Missions to be able to obtain international passports to enable them return home.
He however noted that only a E-Passport Mobile Enrollment Machine had been given to them and expressed the hope that the Nigeria Immigration Service would consummate the positive step it had just taken by giving the mission full passport production facilities to enable it to not only be able to acquire data, but also produce and issue passports to Nigerians”.
Senator Ekweremadu witnessed the enrollment of the Nigerian of the first international passport applicant, Mr. Anthony Julius Osa Odeh, an indigene of Edo State.
Special Adviser (Media) to Deputy President of the Senate