Mohammed Babandede, Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), says nobody will be able to procure a Nigerian passport as from January 2018 without providing his or her National Identification Number (NIN).
He made this known on Tuesday at the end of a meeting of the federal government’s database harmonisation committee in the State House, Abuja.
Babandede said the decision was part of government’s to further ease the process of doing business in the country, adding that the new directive will apply to first-time applicants as well as those wishing to renew their expired passports.
“We have agreed that from January 1, 2018, anybody who is going to apply for Nigerian Passport, whether renewal or fresh application, must first have a national identity number,” he said.
“Why we are doing this is that we want to ease business for Nigeria. There is no need for you to go and have your biometrics captured by NIMC and then you come and capture again with the Nigeria Immigrations.
“Once you give us your NIN, we will collect the biometrics from NIMC and produce your passport. That is the intention to do in all other agencies.
“All NIMC staff can work in our passport office. So, when you come to get your passport, you can also get the national identity card.
“The NIMC has also allowed immigration staff to work in their offices. So, anybody who is coming to claim Nigerian citizenship, they will help to identify that citizen. That is the cooperation that we have had so far.”
Babandede explained that the move could also lead to increased revenue generation for the country as it would be easy for even the Immigration Service to compel tax defaulters to pay their taxes.
He said: “What government is saying is that when you want to collect any facility from any government agency, you don’t need to look for the document from any other government agency. We should be able to access it, we should be able to know whether you have paid your tax or not.
“If you are coming through the airport and you want to leave Nigeria, we should be able to know that this guy has not paid his tax and you should be able to pay your tax before you depart. We are looking at one e-government and it is possible.”
There have been calls by many Nigerians for a harmonization of the country’s database to prevent a situation where many agencies of government collect biodata from citizens.
Currently, agencies that require Nigerians to undergo biometric data capturing for one purpose or the other include the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Nigerian Immigration Service.