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Govt to improve security screening for eligible travellers

Minister of Interior,  Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo said the government is continuously working to improve the security screening process to ensure travellers have a smooth and efficient screening experience, while maintaining the highest standards of security to keep Nigerians safe.

Speaking   during The Big Interview – Episode 2 organised by the State House, Abuja, hosted by O’tega Ogra, Dr. Tunji-Ojo highlighted reforms being undertaken to transforming the ministry and its agencies, from prison reforms, enhanced border security, national assets protection, and fair remuneration for personnel to improved emergency responses and streamlined immigration processes.

According to him, extensive reforms and upgrades have been initiated and were capable of transforming key sectors that impact the nation’s security and efficiency.

He said: “The Ministry of Interior is responsible for citizenship Integrity, enhancement of internal security amongst other things. We have the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), and Federal Fire Service and of course the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). When we came on board last year, we began with stocktaking. As professionals we had to spend time planning so execution will be easy. We’ve been able to do that across all our agencies.

“We have short term, medium and long-term plans. We have been able to achieve our short term goals that we had for ourselves. For example in NIS, the short term goal was to clear our backlog of over 204,000 passports that we inherited.

We cleared that slightly in less than 3 weeks.

We made sure that the passport backlog has become something of the past that will never happen again. We went through our automation process which is basically broken into three different stages. In terms of our short-term targets, we have   achieved the first two. The medium term Target is of course the third one which is where we are now. The first one is of course automating the application process- that we have started.   Today, we have saved the government of billions of naira.  We used to pay for archiving of    documents.  Today, we have automated that process. Applicants now upload their documents by 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.”

According to him, the process is on to equip NIS to start delivering passports to applicants at home.

“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.

He said every effort is being made to encourage passengers to submit documents in advance and save time travelling.

“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

He indicated that dedicated screening lines will be available at domestic and international checkpoints in the airports to help ease congestion over time.

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