James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a motion calling on the federal government to urgently address the current challenges being faced by the supplier of the passport booklets and devise sustainable means to ensure worldwide availability.
It further mandated its Committee on Interior to liaise with the Ministry of Interior and the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to determine the cause of the scarcity and recommend ways to reverse the trend and report back to the House within three weeks for further legislative action.
The lawmakers also mandated the Committee on Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to investigate the challenges being faced in procuring the electronic – passport at Nigerian High Commissions and Embassies and report back to the House within two weeks.
READ MORE: Making Nigerian Passport Available Always
Also on Thursday, a bill for an Act to amend the Flag and Coat of Arms Act, Cap. F30, 2004 to regulate the display and use of the national flag, certain flags and the national coats of arms and for other related matters, scaled seconding reading on the floor of the House.
The bill, which was moved by Hon. Sam Onuigbo, seeks among other things, to specify penalties for disrespect for the use of national symbols of identity.
Meanwhile, the House resolution on passport unavailability was consequent upon a motion sponsored by Hon. Ayodeji Adebayo Joseph on the urgent need to address the scarcity of Nigerian passport booklets.
It lamented that series of complaints of lack of proper procedure for the procurement and renewal of passports at Nigeria’s High Commissions and Embassies abroad as well as discourtesy and inefficiency of staff of those missions are portraying the country a bad light.
The scarcity was said to have started in 2016 when the supplier stopped supplying the 32 – page passport booklet and demanded an upward review of the price of the booklet, citing increased cost of production due to the low exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.
Meanwhile, the scarcity had persisted despite assurances by the Nigerian Immigration Service that passport booklets are available.
Many Nigerians have reportedly missed business and sundry opportunities abroad because of the attendant scarcity of the passport.
In addition, a bill for an Act to repeal the miscellaneous offences Act, Cap. M17, 2004 and for other-related matters also scaled second reading in the House.