The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to streamline the services of Nigerian embassies and high commissions and the charges they impose, especially on the issuance of passport and national identity card.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House particularly urged the Federal Ministry of Interior, through the Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Identity Management Commission and other relevant agencies to “fully automate the processes of passport and national identity card issuance.”
This, the House said, would “reduce the incidences of physical attendance; reduce the waiting period for fresh passport issuance and for renewals to a maximum of 10 working days or less; and ensure that only statutory charges are payable for services through officially designated channels.”
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to streamline the activities of the nation’s embassies and high commissions towards efficient service delivery to Nigerians abroad, while mandating its committees on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora to investigate the allegations and report back within two weeks.
These resolutions were based on a motion moved by a member, Obinna Chidoka, titled ‘Need to Streamline the Services Being Rendered to Nigerians by Nigerian embassies and high commissions abroad’.
Chidoka noted that Nigerian embassies and high commissions were the nation’s flagship territories abroad and, as such, should project the best image of Nigeria’s pride and the best example of the values placed on the citizens.
He also noted that the embassies and high commissions were safe havens for Nigerians in the Diaspora, whether living abroad or travelling abroad.
The lawmaker further noted the deplorable level of services rendered by Nigerian embassies and high commissions around the world to Nigerians, particularly those in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America in the area of passport, national identity card issuance, renewals and ancillary services.
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Chidoka added, “The House is concerned that the treatment meted out to Nigerian citizens abroad by officials of the Nigerian embassies and high commissions have not only affected the lives and businesses of the concerned citizens, it has brought shame and disgrace on Nigeria’s image and the psyche of our citizens.
“The House is also concerned that there have been reported incidences of extortion and fraudulent intimidation by embassy and high commission officials in the past.
“The House is further concerned that unless an urgent measure is taken to put a permanent halt to this trend, the nation’s embassies and high commissions will become a terror to the people they were established to serve.”
The lawmaker stated that the House was “determined to address this menace and bring succour to Nigerians living or travelling abroad, and to uplift the nation’s national pride knowing that with simple automation most of those embarrassing issues can be resolved.”