Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:29 pm
President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday, launched the reclassified standard Nigerian e-Passport, a 64-paged travel document, which the Immigration Service said has been provided to ease the burden on frequent travelers, asking then to protect it against being faked.
The new travel document was presented to the President at the State House in Abuja, by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, David Shikfu Panadang, after the necessary documentation including finger printing, which was witnessed by Interior Minister, Abba Morro.
Jonathan launched the 64-paged passport shortly before the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting began at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He also called on Nigerians to protect the image of the country by shunning uncomplimentary statements and actions, and “painting it in bright colours’’.
Shortly after the launch, Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo were captured in order to be issued with the new travel document.
The new passport, which takes effect from Aug. 1, attracts a fee of N20,000.
The president explained that the passport pages had to be increased from 32 to 64 to cater for frequent travelers who change their passport almost every month because of limited pages for visa.
He also asked officials who man the nation’s airports to ensure that they conduct themselves in a manner that will portray the country well before visitors.
He said; “I always sympathise with those who travel almost on a weekly basis, changing passport every month; at least we have moved a step forward.
“The key thing is for us to have a robust relationship with key countries so that some of these frequent travelers may not need visas, and this will really help us more.
“One thing one must know today is that it is not the issue of 64-page passport that is key to Nigerians but the security. If our passport could be easily faked by criminals, then we will have problems.
“One thing again is how Nigerians can get passport easily especially those living outside this country.
“When I travel, there is this complaint about how to get the Nigerian passport not necessarily the issue of 64-page passport but how do they get it, so the ministry must look into this.’’
The president noted that what concerned every traveler was the efficiency and commitment of the country’s immigration officers working at the various airports.
According to him, visitors to the country have different impressions about the immigration officers because they are one of their first points of contacts in the country.
“How they handle visitors matters so much. If they conduct themselves poorly, it reflects on all of us, so their conducts at the airports are key besides the passport.
“The issue of the image of the country is what we will all work for, both people in government, the media and civil society.
“I always say that when people continue to paint their country with all kinds of colours, that is the way they will associate those colours with your green passport.
“I want a situation that whenever you travel to another country and you raise your green passport, people will appreciate you and not begin to think that it signifies some suspicious character.
“We are not helping ourselves when we paint ourselves the colours that we are supposed to bear.
“I wish to continue to appeal to all Nigerians that we must all collectively learn how we do our things, statements that we make, to paint brighter colours for our green passport,’’ he said.
At a press briefing last week, the Comptroller General of Immigration noted that the 64-page passport would be issued only to those who are confirmed to be frequent travelers, and does not replace the existing 32-page passport, which remains valid, while passport holders can only possess one of the two.