The Nigerian missions will soon commence delivering passports to its nationals through courier to eliminate the stress Nigerians go through to visit the missions to keep interview appointments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
The Permanent Secretary, Amb. Gabriel Aduda told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York that the ministry was already discussing with some courier companies to pilot the scheme.
“We have started with new innovation and we are trying to keep Nigerians from travelling to missions for passport renewal.
“We are already talking with some courier companies that will pick passports to the applicants’ doorsteps when they have made all the necessary payments and fill the forms online.
“We don’t want them to come to the missions anymore; it will be delivered to them and we have four Consulates to pilot the innovation,’’ he said.
Aduda, while reacting to questions from a hybrid Town Hall meeting organised by the Consulate-General of Nigeria in New York for nationals within its jurisdiction, Aduda assured Nigerians living in the U.S. of improved passport services.
NAN reports that some Nigerians raised issues bothering on improved services on visa, passport issuance, delivery and the need to get emergency travel certificates, among others.
The permanent secretary, in his intervention, urged Nigerian missions to make town hall meetings a regular feature, adding that without Nigerians in any country, there will not be any need for a mission.
He said holding regular meetings with nationals would enable Nigerians to hold the Consulates accountable while assuring the consulate in New York of the ministry’s support for sustaining the town hall.
Reacting to backlogs of passports, Aduda said that COVID-19 pandemic came with a dry spell in the production of passports, adding that it created a problem in all the missions across the world.
“In London alone, they had a shortfall of 19,000 passports and they tried to cover the lost ground. Initially, 10,000 passports were injected and we put more until they were cleared.
“The same thing in New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta; we have a huge gap that we are still ready to fill. Also, back home in Nigeria, it is the same problem.
“People applied for passports for months but they could not get them because the booklets were not available. But as I speak, a lot is being done to cover the gaps.’’
Besides, the permanent secretary urged Nigerians living in the U.S to be good ambassadors of the country and encouraged them to engage more with the Consulate officials.
“We are mindful that we need to cover the U.S. a bit more because of your size. We are considering reopening the Francisco mission soon.
“Perhaps, if need be, we may open a mission in Texas because of the huge population of Nigerians residing there but we will pay attention to San Francisco for now.
“Let us see how we can reduce traffic coming from the West to New York, Atlanta and Washington, DC. So we are working hard to get it done,’’
Aduda assured the Nigerian community that the Consulate was committed to making things easy for them, calling on them to support the mission to deliver better services.
On land donated to Nigerian nationals in Miami, Florida, Aduda challenged the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDO Americas) to take possession of it and build a museum for Nigeria.
On ways, Nigerians could handle emergency trips to the homeland, Mrs Mosun Onilede, the Immigration Attache, advised Nigerians to apply for Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC).
Onilede said ETC allowed Nigerians to travel home on one way and it is valid for only 14 days, saying that such provision can be checked with the Airlines also.
NAN reports that the town hall meeting was attended by several Nigerians both in-persons and by virtual, including Amb. Amina Smaila, Consul-General of Nigeria in Atlanta, and Amb. George Edokpa, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN.