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    Tuesday, July 2, 2024

    FG to Enhance Security Screening Procedures for Eligible Travelers

    The Honorable Minister of the Interior is pleased to announce the commencement of the novel verified traveler initiative, meticulously crafted to elevate the security screening procedure for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria.

    The esteemed Minister of Interior, Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, conveyed the government’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the security screening process. This endeavor aims to provide travelers with a seamless and efficient screening experience while upholding the highest security standards to safeguard the well-being of Nigerian citizens.

    During the State House’s Big Interview – Episode 2, hosted by O’tega Ogra, in Abuja, Dr. Tunji-Ojo provided insights into the ongoing reforms aimed at transforming the ministry and its agencies. These reforms encompass prison reforms, enhanced border security, national assets protection, fair remuneration for personnel, improved emergency responses, and streamlined immigration processes.

    In his opinion, substantial reforms and enhancements have been implemented, demonstrating the potential to revolutionize critical sectors that directly influence the nation’s security and operational effectiveness.

    He said: The Ministry of Interior is tasked with ensuring the integrity of citizenship, enhancing internal security, and overseeing various agencies such as the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Federal Fire Service, and National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Upon assuming our roles last year, we embarked on a comprehensive assessment of the current state of affairs. As seasoned professionals, we recognized the importance of thorough planning to facilitate effective execution. Consequently, we have successfully implemented this approach across all our agencies.

    “Our primary objective was to eliminate the substantial backlog of over 204,000 passports that we inherited.

    We successfully accomplished this task in less than 3 weeks.

    We have taken proactive measures to ensure that the passport backlog becomes a thing of the past and will never recur.

    We successfully resolved the issue in under three weeks.

    We have effectively eliminated the passport backlog, ensuring that it will not reoccur. Our automation process, which is divided into three distinct stages, has been implemented. Regarding our short-term objectives, we have accomplished the first two. We are currently focused on achieving the medium-term objective, which is the third stage. The initial stage, which involves automating the application process, has already commenced. To date, we have saved the government billions of naira by automating the document archiving process, eliminating the need for paid archiving services. Applicants can now conveniently upload their documents themselves.

    “We used to pay N200 per applicant for archiving about 3 million passports a year. That is about N600 million.  So we have saved the government that money and yet it’s even more convenient because people can now do that on their own.”

    As per his statement, the necessary steps are being taken to ensure that the National Identity Service (NIS) is adequately equipped to commence home delivery of passports to applicants.

    “We have moved now to the stage where passports will be delivered to homes. We has integrated the solution. Everything is already sorted. The third stage which is the last stage in terms of the automation process is the ability to go contactless in terms of our passport renewal process like what we see in other climes. That people find it difficult to believe will happen is one major challenge for me as the Minister of Interior,” he said.

    Every effort is being made to encourage passengers to submit their documents in advance, thereby saving time during the travel process.

    “You don’t have to go to immigration office to renew your passport. These are things that you do on your system and you automate the whole process and all that. When we developed the solution we saw that there was no data center. one of the first things we listed in our short- long-term plan was to establish a data centre.

    “We have been able to achieve it now to the glory of God.   NIS has a data center which is the first data center that the service has had in 61 years of existence. So what it basically means is that the Integrity of the data of Nigerians is within our control because we take biometric details of people; Nigerians most especially. We are saddled with the responsibility of warehousing and protecting this data. Securing this data ensures the sanctity and integrity of the data and that’s one thing we’ve been able to achieve in Immigration,” Dr. Tuni-Ojo said.

    It was mentioned that dedicated screening lines will be made available at domestic and international checkpoints in the airports to help alleviate congestion over time.

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