Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has commended the Nigeria Immigration Service for introducing the Electronic-Passport (e-Passport) with 10-year validity, saying it will enable Nigerians acquire long-term visas.
Speaking during the roll-out of the enhanced e-Passport in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Governor Wike also lauded the Immigration Service for the improved security features on the new passport.
He said: “Let me thank the Nigeria Immigration Service for their giant strides in the area of the Electronic Passport. It will help towards security and other trends.
“The Introduction of e-Passport is indeed commendable because of its improved security features and other key features of the passport.
“The extension of the validity period is also important as it will allow holders to access lengthy visas. The 10year passport affords most people the opportunity to have longer visas.
“The Governor noted that the requirement that all those seeking to obtain the International Passport must have National Identity Number is key.
“The integration with the national identity number is very important. It is an innovation which is encouraging,” he said.
He commended the Comptroller-General for taking Port Harcourt first in the commencement of the issuance of e-Passport in the South-South and South-East.
Governor Wike, however, said that the requirement that Nigerians must supply their BVN before obtaining the e-Passport is not necessary.
He said: “I was surprised yesterday, when I was told to bring my Bank Verification Number (BVN). Assuming I have a child, who is one year old and I want to travel with my child, are you telling me that my child cannot travel, perhaps because he does not have a bank account?
“I told them, you have my salary account, go and check my BVN. I don’t know how the BVN has become a factor in the issuance of international passport. That is not acceptable. If this is the only way that we can check corruption, then we have failed.
“As a Governor, you know my salary, you know my account and this can be collected from the Code of Conduct Bureau. It is not hidden.”
The Governor advised Federal Agencies to stop depending on state governments for their operations.
“Federal Agencies should stop depending fully on State Governments for their operations. The responsibility is too enormous.
“Today, you have asked. The police will ask, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency will ask, the Army will ask and other Federal Agencies will also ask. How are we going to survive?” he said.
He appealed to Rivers people to take advantage of the facility to obtain their International Passports.
He said: “I want to thank you for this innovation. I know that since you launched it here, I should also do something good, but not today.
“I urge our people to take advantage of this facility to ensure you come to get your International passport. Also go and register for your National Identity card, it us very important.”
Earlier, the Rivers State Comptroller of Immigration, Mr Segun Adegoke said that the essence of the e-Passport is to reposition and improve the passport issuance regime and tailor it towards the best global practice.
He said the new regime now offers the options of five years and 10 years validity to save bona fide Nigerians from frequent visits to replace their passports.
Passport Officer, Rivers State Command, AJ Umoh said that the new e-Passport has new security features like multi laser image, pre-printed features, UV light, infrared, laser engraving and is International civil aviation organization.
Highpoint of the event was the capturing and presentation of the new e-Passport to the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and his wife, Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike.