By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The Senator representing Anambra Central in the National Assembly, Senator Uche Ekwunife has harped on the need to address the delay associated with issuance and renewal of Nigerian international passport by the Immigration Services, Worldwide.
Senator Ekwunife made the call on Tuesday through a motion she moved to that effect at the Red Chamber, where drew the attention of the Senate to the age-old challenge, which, she said, has caused Nigerians many frustration.
According to her, Ekwunife the hitches and procrastination in the processes have brought untold hardships for the teeming Nigerians who either want to travel out of the country or return to the country.
Senator Ekwunife, in the motion under the Rules 41 and 51 of The Senate Standing Orders, regretted that, despite the six weeks timeline of processing a passport given by the Federal Government barely a year ago, that thousands of Nigerians are still facing long waits.
The federal lawmaker who is also the Chairman Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Innovation, bemoaned that new applicants and those who wish to renew their passports spend between 3 and 6 months processing their applications at the offices of the Nigerian Immigration Services and Nigerian Embassies outside the country.
She explained that the Nigerian passport is an official identity document that affirms the bearer’s citizenship, and which is being issued to Nigerians primarily for the purpose of traveling out of Nigeria and returning to Nigeria in the exercise of their rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement.
“It has also become extremely difficult for passports to be processed across the entire Nigerian Immigration offices in different states, especially Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja, thereby forcing the applicants to travel to different locations just to get their passports renewed.
“Our international students are equally finding it difficult to renew their passports to enable them to travel back home to unite with their families,” she lamented
Ekwunife’s motion was unanimously adopted by all Senators and referred to the Senate Committee on Interior for urgent investigation and action. The Committee will report back to the Senate in two weeks time.