The Nigerian Immigration Service or NIS has attributed the scarcity of passport booklets in the country to the policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria or CBN.
While speaking on Tuesday before an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the production of passport booklets in Nigeria, Idris Jere, the Comptroller-General of NIS, disclosed that “Foreign exchange regulation policy of the government and CBN’s refusal to grant access to forex for importation of the passport booklet” has affected production.
He added that “the factors responsible for the scarcity of passports include the inability to set up a passport-producing factory in Nigeria as its production is done abroad.“
Jere recommended that a proper plan be developed to ensure a smooth handover from Iris Smart Tech to Nigeria Security Printing and Minting PLC or NSPM following the president’s directive that booklets should be produced by NSPM.
Yinka Fisher, the CEO of Iris Smart Technology Ltd, who spoke earlier, stated that the major hindrance to the production of booklets is the difficulty in accessing foreign exchange.
He also accused NSPM of sabotaging the company’s effort in the production of the booklets, saying, “The Nigeria Immigration Service gave the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Plc the opportunity to print the first set of booklets. When they were delivered, it was substandard. The government discarded them and decided to have an international tender for the production and embedding of chips.”
He added that of the five companies that were invited by the government, “the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Plc were found to be technically incompetent and expensive.”