By Claudia Nwankwo
As “Nigerians” we (naturally) shy away from using government agency portals or online platforms. Many would say that the portals do not work and they make things more difficult. Others would not even bother to try because as far as they are concerned it’s all make believe.
Personally, I do not subscribe to herd mentality. I keep an open-mind approach to everything. I prefer to test and see and speak from my own experience. Based on this, (also due to dwindling resources post-covid-era) I decided that this year, I will not pay any extras. I would try the portals and see how it goes.
Recently, I have tried the FRSC portal for renewal of driving licence, Ikeja electric portal for KYC and prepaid meter application, NIMC for identity card enrollment and most recently, the NIS for my international (travel) passport renewal.
I had asked around and was told to prepare to pay between 40k to 50k for 32page passport with 5 years validity. I’d also read about other people’s experiences on social media but I was determined to see for myself.
I checked on the NIS website and saw that renewal for adults cost only 25k. So, I proceeded to apply using the online portal. I filled the form, printed the necessary document and went straight to Alausa passport office.
At the office, I was directed to the lady in-charge of online applications. She told me all I needed to do. It seemed as though there was going to be unnecessary delays. I quickly escalated my case and voila! I was ready for capturing.
The good thing about using the online portal is that you have first-hand information about your application and it puts you half-way through the entire process. Such that when you get to the passport office you only need to get your forms/application approved and proceed for capturing (most likely) same day.
Online application erases the issue of filling your forms today and returning another day for capturing.
Also, it does not encourage any form of bribery.
After capturing, you are issued a slip with which you’d return to pick up your passport “ceteris paribus” within 72 (work) hours.
Undoubtedly, there are no institutions without bad eggs but if (like me) you insist on doing the right thing then the systems would work as designed.
I must commend the senior immigration officers who took my complaint (of delays) seriously and addressed all my concerns with the speed of light. I left the passport office a satisfied customer.
If you are looking to apply for (fresh or renewal) international travel passport anytime soon, here is what I’ll advise:
• First and foremost, visit the NIS website https://portal.immigration.gov.ng/ to get all necessary information as per requirement and process of application.
If you can do it on your own, its perfect! If not, go straight to the helpdesk of any NIS passport office near you. Immigration Officers would guide you on all you need to know and do. If in doubt or you encounter any misconduct, do well to escalate but insist on the right thing.
• Afterwards, you will need to print out the completed application form, sign it, print out your acknowledgement and payment slip.
• Take along your NIMC slip (compulsory)
• NIN number (compulsory)
• Copies of first and last page of your expired/old passport (if any)
• Hard copy of your expired/old (for sighting)
• Two passport photographs
The passport cost 25k, the payment gateway will charge 1k. I spent a total of 28k including photocopies and printing.
Remember I was asked to pay between 40k to 50k without guarantee of same day capturing and short pickup period but I ended up saving myself 12k to 22k. Captured same day plus guaranteed pick-up.
Money and time saved!
I can confirm that online is easier, faster and more efficient, thanks to the process and institutional reforms led by the NIS boss Comptroller General Muhammad Babandede. I must also commend the DCI PR and PCO Alausa for ensuring to deliver exceptional service.
If it was that easy at Alausa passport office (knowing the numbers that turn-up within that area) then it would be the same across all passport offices nationwide.
I was quite impressed.