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I just Got My Passport Renewed- By Foluso Phillips  

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I just got my passport renewed. So, what is the big deal you might ask? Well, I did it in what I regard as record time, by following the system. That is the big deal.

It all started with my desperate need to renew my passport very quickly because of my frequent trips and inability to leave my passport invalid for any period. So, I thought I will need to get some help to make this happen. I went straight to the very top of the passport issuing system, the Honourable Minister of the Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and was about to tell him my desperate story, when he said “Foluso, please just follow the system, go online and apply and if it is not working for you, then get back to me and we will find out why.” Obviously, I felt a bit miffed that he was not ready to help, then he added, “I will advise that you choose Shagamu as your passport office of choice, because you might be able to get a good date for an appointment”. At this stage, I knew he was not ready to help.

Did I have a choice? Of course not, I had just spoken to Mr Passport himself. Follow the system he had said, so I did and what a surprise!!

First, I thought to test the portal so I could brace myself for what I perceived was going to be a major data entry battle, but lo and behold, what started as a trial became a reality. I could not stop. Moving from one entry to another on my phone, I completed this form very easily…name, address, old passport number, National Identity Number, etc and before I knew it, I was asked to select a date from the calendar for my appointment in Shagamu (for finger printing and photograph) as advised. Guess what, the very next day was available. I booked it and the payment option showed up and with my card out, I paid in literally seconds and out came my payment receipt, appointment slip, confirmation of data entered etc and I was done. I could not believe it. I was compelled to call the Honourable Minister to say, “It worked”. I could hear his unspoken response “Of course it worked” and shared my delight that I had an appointment the next day in Shagamu for 12 noon.

I got to Shagamu at 11:45 am, braced and ready for hassle, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the sleepy town of Shagamu at that time in the morning was what I also found at the passport Office. It was quiet and orderly. There was a process. I was received along with others who had also just arrived. My time for appointment was confirmed, documents checked for completeness (old passport, appointment slip, 2 passport photographs and NIN print out as instructed on the portal). “Follow me sir” and I went into another section and within 20 minutes of sitting down was invited to take my fingerprints and photograph. A few minutes after that, I was given a slip to pick up my passport on Tuesday “next week”. This was on Thursday, and I was asked to come back 5 days later. I had to reconfirm the exact Tuesday and was reassured it was not an error – yes next Tuesday. Good people, I got my passport today – the Tuesday as promised.

Let’s analyse this. I must admit I got some help – my grey hair and grey beard gave me “old age privilege”, which fast tracked my data capture along with a priest and his elderly wife. You know that it is a Yoruba thing, to step aside for “agbalagbas” (older people). Apart from that, I just followed the system. I was assured that only the number of people to be processed each day are invited and the collection date never fails. The elderly Priest was just leaving with his passport when I got there. Apparently if you are over 70, you do not have to collect your passport personally (I am still working on that 70 part).

I must give kudos to the Minister of the Interior and his team, the IT guys who structured this efficient digitisation process and the Immigration crew at the passport office, who displayed such sense of service and help to people around. It was not rowdy in the least, and you have no business coming there if you have not got an appointment slip because the system will not just let you in. The beauty of this rapid digitisation that is going on in different parts of our government and civil service is that people cannot buck the system. You will be wasting your money paying anyone to “help” you in the passport office to fast track your passport because the system cannot be rushed beyond its digital commitment. For those who claim they are helping, they are only looking into what the system says it’s going to do and making you pay for that information – they do not make it any faster. If they do, the system screams and highlights these exceptions, which somebody had better be ready to explain.

My good people, honestly, trust the system, certainly at the passport office. Whilst, sharing my Shagamu experience with the boys at the club on Friday, another colleague confirmed that he got his passport from the Abeokuta Passport Office within two days of submission!! I guess the weekend interfered with my timing.

However, Lagos is a different issue. Its overcrowded, pushed beyond its capacity and frustrating at the best of times. Maybe, Lagos should have about three centres, just to bring a bit of sanity and even appreciation of the efforts of the Passport processing office. If you want to get your passport quickly, try Shagamu or Abeokuta for a start. I believe there are many other centres around the country. I am told the printing is done at certain regional points. Passports are printed in each hub on the same day every week for each collection centre. This makes weekly deliveries and commitments certain.

Honourable Minister Aregbesola, thank you for doing a great job and showing that we can sort ourselves out if we focus on a process that stops people from bucking the system. Of course, we will have rogue elements, but certainly not as a norm. Well done.
Good people, go get your passport if you must. It’s not a hassle. It certainly was not for me.

Foluso Phillips is the Chairman of Phillips Consulting Group

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No Passport Booklet Shortage Again In Nigeria – FG; Deploys 10,000 Booklets To New P/Harcourt Passport Production Centre

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There is no shortage of booklets again for the production of passport in Nigeria, the Federal Government has revealed.

This was made known by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, at the commissioning of the Enhanced Passport Production Centre in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital on Tuesday, 9 August, 2022. The newly commissioned passport centre will now be responsible for the production of passport demands from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States.

“We have left no stone unturned in our quest to make passports available to Nigerians. Last year alone, we provided 1.3 million passports to Nigerians. As of today, there is no booklets shortage in Nigeria.

“As at the second quarter of this year (in June), the NIS have provided 645,000 passports out of the 750,000 applications received. To address the challenge of the backlog, we have sent 11,000 booklets to Ikoyi, 11,000 to Alausa and 8,000 to FESTAC centres in Lagos.

“We have also sent sufficient booklets to all the centres nationwide to address this challenge. There is therefore no excuse again for delay and non-issuance within a reasonable period,” Minister told the cheering public.

The Minister also urged the listening public to make sure they apply by themselves online to avoid being shortchanged by unscrupulous elements.

“I will urge applicants for the Nigerian passport to apply early enough before their travel date to avoid cutting corners and falling into the hands of scammers and other opportunists. It is important also that they apply by themselves at the Nigeria Immigration Service portal and not through touts and unscrupulous officials, which often bring heartaches.

“We have provided a window of six weeks and three weeks for fresh application and renewal respectively, after biometric data capture, by which time, other things being equal, the passport will be ready for collection. This timeline is to enable NIS investigate and validate the claims of applicants and confer integrity on the passport issued. It is a reasonable provision in passport administration by global standard. There is no wait-and-get passport service anywhere in the world. The only wait-and-get passport is passport-sized photograph from Polaroid camera,” the Minister stated.

The Minister further stated that the Passport Production Centre launched today will serve applicants from Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, but was quick to add that it doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on any of the centres, noting that a deployment of 10,000 booklets has been deployed to serve the fours states with immediate effect. He also stated that there are currently no backlogs in any of the four states.

“The production centre we are launching today will serve Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States for production purpose only. It doesn’t confer any advantage or disadvantage on the applicants in any of the four states. It’s simply a production centre.

“We have also delivered 10,000 passports to this centre. This is in addition to the fact that there are no backlogs to be cleared. In some advanced countries we often like to cite, it takes months to procure their passports. But in addition to the standardized timeline, we have also introduced tracking mechanism in the application process, to enable applicants monitor the progress of their application.

“We are also introducing data capture centres all over the country before the end of this year, to eliminate physical contacts with NIS officials. We shall continue to introduce necessary and available innovations to passport administration in order to best serve applicants in our quest for establishing citizenship integrity,” the Minister stated.

While speaking, Governor Nyesom Wike, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Gogo Banigo, promised to continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service in the state, as it was the policy of his administration.

“We would continue to support the Nigeria Immigration Service, just as we provided the building now housing the production centre.

“Just as we provide support to all security agencies in the state and in particular, the agencies under the ministry of Interior, we would continue to prioritize the welfare of the citizens of the state,” Gov. Wike stated.

During his opening address, Acting Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Idris Isah Jere, revealed that the service will no longer condone any act of indiscipline by officer, noting that they must be professional in carrying out their assigned duties.

Also at the event were: the General Officer Commanding, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, represented by Brig. General EC Echebuwe; Commander, 115 Special Operations Group, Group Captain AA Opaleye; Commissioner of Police, Rivers State Command, Mr. Friday, Eboka; Controller of Customs, Rivers State Command, Dappa Williams; Rivers State Director, Department of State Services, Mr. Mohammed Shittu; Sector Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps, Umar Salisu Galadunchi; Rivers State Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mark Balm; amongst other dignitaries.

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Climate Change: Delivering Objectives Of Act 2021 Without “Humongous Bureaucracy” – By Mardiyyah Omikunle   

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Recent moves by President Buhari to implement Climate Change Act 2021, Nigeria’s framework law to deliver green growth for sustainable economic development, are rubbing against bureaucratic infighting over the form and composition of the implementing mechanism the National Climate Change Council (NCCC) and its secretariat. The NCCC is chaired by the President with broad participation from government and civil society, and is supported by a Secretariat headed by a Director General who is recommended by NCCC and appointed by the President. Because the NCCC is chaired by the President and Vice President and located within the presidency, it signals to the world that Nigeria is taking a whole-of-Government approach to low carbon development and is not merely delegating the issue to a line ministry. Recent pronouncements by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, questioned both the ‘humongous bureaucracy’ CCA created and the composition of the NCCC. Such doubts as COP 27 approaches, may be misinterpreted as sending mixed signals to development partners interested in supporting Nigeria’s energy transition.
Recently, the Minister vented his frustration at the unwieldy ‘humongous bureaucracy” of “state and zonal directors” in the NCCC’s secretariat. He went further adding that “membership of the council also inadvertently takes out commissioners of environment as members of the Climate Change Council. The secretariat has no directorates to support functions of the director-general, no transitional provisions in relation to functions of the department of climate change and the Climate Change Council.” The minister then announced that he had set up a technical review committee within the Ministry of Environment to initiate “amendments of the Act”.
An internal ministry of environment technical review committee to amend the Act is the classic bureaucratic response to a bureaucratic problem. The Act’s implementing structure appear designed to avoid capture by a single ministry and be nimble enough to respond to reform priorities across ministries departments and agencies and between the levels of government. While this may have drawbacks, the more pertinent question relating to structure and institutional transition is whether the NCCC and the secretariat can provide the framework for sustainable economic development achieved through low carbon means to occur across government and society. Here, the ministry of environment has specific inputs to make the climate diagnosis. The treatment plan or cure is actually provided by other stakeholders responsible for the policies, technologies and societal changes that make sustainable economic growth a reality. The treatment aspects of the CCA’s objectives and NCCC’s mandate involve inputs primarily from other agencies such as the petroleum, power, transport, water, works and housing sectors among others. The CCA and NCCC thus require a whole-of-government review, and not just a ministry of environment technical review.
While, the Minister and the ministry are understandably territorial about the CCA and NCCC, the NCCC is unlike other councils or committees superintending particular sectors as with say communications with the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). The NCCC and its secretariat are crosscutting institutions that resemble the defunct Office of the Senior-Special-Assistant to the President on Millennium-Development-Goals (OSSAP-MDGs) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). The BPE as secretariat to the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) closely resembles the NCCC and its secretariat. Both OSSAP-MDGs and BPE were created within the Presidency and operated on a whole-of-government premise rather than being hived-off from a parent-ministry – a kind of prodigal children as the Minister seems to think the NCCC and secretariat are.
It is worth mentioning that the pioneering Director-Generals or leaders of both OSSAP-MDGs and BPE had successful non-civil service professional and managerial careers and brought that private sector drive, energy, can-do spirit and organisational discipline to the new institution. They also possessed the requisite stakeholder management skills to navigate social and political interests across all levels of government. This does raise questions, given the vast all-encompassing and existential challenge climate change poses, whether the Minister sees the proverbial forest from the ministerial tree.
Seeing the forest from the ministerial tree generates the perspective needed to discern the internal inconsistencies in the Minister’s position. As it is difficult to reconcile the minister’s criticism of the CCA with his proud announcement, in the same breathe, “that just last week, Mr. President appointed the pioneer director-general of the National Climate Change Council.” If the deficiencies in the Act can prompt the minister to review and recommend amendments, why then announce the appointment of a Director-General when the CCA expressly says that such an appointment can only be made after the NCCC recommends a Director-General to the President? Such an appointment and announcement fits squarely into the problems the CCA has that the technical review committee should have also reviewed. It is even more irregular when the appointment is announced by the minister or the ministry rather than the Presidency, which usually announces such appointments. It is unclear whether the appointment has been announced by the President or presidency at all. These irregularities and inconsistencies will not have gone unnoticed by the international community, private sector investors and interested parties to Nigeria’s climate change objectives.
In the end raising issues about the CCA while making unconfirmed pronouncements on staffing this close to the 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) in November in Egypt sends the signal that Nigeria is not ready politically, institutionally or policy-wise to receive the investment required to transition to a low carbon economy. This ultimately defeats the very objectives of the CCA.
If Nigeria is to achieve the objectives in the CCA, the Minister and Ministry of Environment will need to play their indispensable part by not going it alone, but by being in lock step with the entire government and people of Nigeria. We all go farther on the road to net zero when we go together.
Mardiyyah Omikunle, specialises in Energy Law and Climate Change, she writes from Lagos.

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Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan Hits the Right Safety Button with LNSA

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Since the inception of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s Administration in 2019, there is one thing he reiterated in his manifesto and has sworn to uphold under his THEMES agenda where he highlighted Security as one of the pillars of his administration. In a bid to ensure all Lagosians can go about their lawful activities without fear of the unknown, he saddled himself with the responsibility as the Chief Security Officer of the state to ensure he puts the necessary security apparatus in place to ensure the safety of lives and properties. Without a doubt, Governor Sanwo-Olu delivered in every aspect as no stone was left unrolled. Taking the Security of lives and properties serious, he invested a heavy financial war chest in the acquisition of security gadgets for the Police, the Response Rapid Squad RRS and the Lagos State Neighbourhood Agency LNSA headed by the indefatigable Prince Ifalade Ajasa Oyekan.
Since the Administrative commencement of the Agency in 2017 during the Past government till this moment, Mr. Governor has ensured proper funding for the safety outfit investing Billions of Naira to equip it so it can give the necessary security support in the aspect of surveillance to the necessary agency for a swift collaboration and a positive synergy for a better Lagos. When Ifalade took over in 2021, He was like a fresh Gust of Summer wind who had a loft idea owning to his background as a seasoned technocrat having worked at the Law Enforcement Training Institute LETI and his experience working with a dredging company and also as a season legal luminary. On assumption of office, one thing he ensured was to bring a different feel to consolidate the effort of Governor Sanwo-Olu in ensuring the agency functions optimally to ensure it lives up to its expected expectation. He used his good relationship to ensure Mr. Governor increases his stake in the affairs of the agency. The transformation agenda started by re-orientating his officers on proper conduct, proper dress code and proper ethics among the citizenry. He introduced the use of Body cameras for his officers. He also ensured they often attend LETI for proper updating of knowledge in discharging their duties. In addition to that, he also ensured proper welfare packages for his staff by raising a motion for life insurance for officers who are injured in the cause of discharging their duties or eventually loss of life. This was infused as many commended his effort that to protect lives and properties, one must be fully motivated to give his all. Falade did not only stop at that with the help of Mr. Governor, He also ensured several visiting routines were taken to ensure the functionality of each Local government and a general meeting with the head of commands where they relay their concerns on pressing issues and the challenges. This gives room for positive and negative feedback which the agency acts upon to be above board at all times.
In his process of rebranding, he also requests the permission of Mr Governor to further recruit more hands to enable adequate manpower for the agency to function well. Currently, the Agency is recruiting over one thousand officers who will be commissioned into the agency before the end of the year. In a bid to also spread its tentacles through a public and private partnership with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, the agency launched an anti-trafficking unit last year August in collaboration with NAPTIP on child and human trafficking among other vices. In a bid to rebrand, he has gotten the approval of Mr Governor to create several units in the agency that will also be supportive of intelligence gathering. The agency will create a research and documentation unit, Forensic unit, Situation Room, Water Ways surveillance, Drone deployment, Forest Monitor team and a host of others.
Over the week, at the Agency’s head office in Bolade, Oshodi, Falade and ensured the distribution of tactical materials like; caution tapes, Ropes, Scanners, Tasers, Shin and elbow guide, Generators, Riot Shield, LNSA Photo book and a host of items for administrative purposes and enforcement.
In his quest to show effectiveness in duty through proper monitoring, the agency under Falade’s watch also commissioned 16 zonal heads. The Zonal heads will monitor zonal local Government unit. He also handed out brand new patrol cars to the officers who emerged having gone through proper scrutiny, training and exams. The Zonal head will ensure the smooth running of their domain and ensure all unit functions optimally and report to the Agency’s head office. As part of the rebranding process, The Agency next month will commence the rebranding of all its offices across Lagos with full painting with the agency’s Blue and Yellow colour with visible signage to ensure uniformity. The agency will also commence building and furnishing of new offices for some units that run under a temporary office.
A close source disclosed that; all these giant strides and impeccable records would not have been possible if not for the full support and the quest for the protection of lives and property of the State Government under Governor Sanwo-Olu. In a quick conversation; Prince Ifalade averred that; “Mr Governor has been supportive in all ways. Our mode of operation now is different from what it used to be. Anytime we give Mr Governor a proposal on anything regarding security, he does not joke with it. In fact, he signed it with immediate alacrity. He has also told us to ensure that each time we have any request we should not hesitate to call his attention that he is ready to support us to the fullest so we can keep functioning at a higher capacity.”
“The Agency is not relenting despite some challenges we face. We will continue to intensify our effort to make Lagos a safe haven for all. We are also open to public and private partnerships. Every top individual and private firm in Lagos who wants to reach out through their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR, will also ease the burden on Government. Security is the responsibility of all sundry and should not be left to some selected people only. If all hands are on deck, Lagos will be a safer place”. He further concluded.

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