By Yahaya Isah
The Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has confirmed the clearance of about 60,000 passport backlog in four days out of over 200,000 pending passport applications.
This is consequent upon the directives given to the immigration service by the minister to ensure clearance of all pending passport applications within two weeks.
Tunji-Ojo made this known when the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, paid him a courtesy visit on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to a statement by the minister’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Alao Babatunde, Tunji-Ojo said he would clean up the passport crisis in the country.
“When we came on board, the passport crisis was an embarrassment to the country and we said there is no way it can continue.
“As at this morning, I can tell you that about 60,000 passport backlogs have been cleared specifically, 59,906.
“On Sept. 6, when I gave the 2-week ultimatum, we had over 200,000 backlogs. However, we have recorded tremendous progress, and I still maintain my words, those backlogs must be cleared.”
The humanitarian affairs minister had earlier said that the visit was informed by the need for the two ministries to collaborate in reducing human trafficking.
The minister added that the collaboration would also include other related challenges such as the poor welfare for veterans, underemployment and poverty reduction.
Edu said that the interior ministry was in the best position to solve issues of human trafficking as it plays supervisory role on the Nigeria Immigration Service.
Responding, Tunji-Ojo said that the ministry welcomes such initiative as it was in line with President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’.
He recalled that the President had directed ministers to see partnership as agent of his agenda, as such the interior ministry was fully prepared for any meaningful collaboration.
The minister assured Edu of his support, adding that her initiative was germain and commendable, especially at this crucial time in the history of the country.
“There is a lot of work to be done and we cannot work in silos as the President has directed.
“We are not just working on humanitarian endeavours such as human trafficking, NIS must help us change the story completely,” he added.
Tunji-Ojo assured that they would work together to find thoughtful and progressive solutions to human trafficking and other issues raised by the humanitarian affairs minister.
“We may only have to expand it to include the welfare of inmates in our correctional centres as they are Nigerians as well.
“Let’s see how they can benefit from your welfare packages. Of course, there is a lot we can achieve together,” he added. (NAN)