The Federal Government designed the new templates for acquisition of passports to block non citizens from faking or acquiring the documents.
The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who disclosed this in Abuja, said passports remained a national identity and vital documents to all citizens and its sanctity should be well protected.
According to him the new conditions/templates introduced as prerequisites for obtaining or renewing passports were instituted to curb the acquisition of Nigerian passports by non-citizens.
Dr Tunji-Ojo, who was fielding questions from reporters on the issue, emphasised that passport is a security document exclusive to Nigerian citizens.
He explained that the new conditions would not only impede non-Nigerians from acquiring the passport but frustrate attempts to fake the document in view of its security features.
He lamented that foreigners have exploited the inefficiencies of the previous system to acquire the documents.
He however acknowledged challenges faced by applicants for the new passport, assuring the public of an enhanced process in the coming weeks.
Our correspondent gathered that new templates, especially the provision of a citizenship certificate, date of birth certificate and the National Identification Number (NIN) have become critical in verifying applicant’s true citizenship.
Tunji-Ojo explained that the reforms were aimed at simplifying the passport acquisition process for Nigerians through facilitating speedy online application, production, and passport collection.
“We have to introduce this new system in order to stop those non-Nigerians carrying Nigerian passports. Contrary to reports, the new process is working very effectively and hiccups recorded is only 4 per cent, which is significant improvement for a system that is newly introduced and I assure you that in the next one or two weeks we will have near perfect system.
“We have to improve our process of obtaining passports because passport is a security document. This new system has improved accessibility, transparency and efficiency,” the Minister stated.
“We are building a future for Nigerians where things should be done in a better way. We changed the price of five-year passport because the 10-year passport is N70, 000; so, the one for five years should be half of that amount, which is N35. 000. We are committed to making things better in our country,” the Minister added.