By FUNMILAYO OLASUPO
THE Minister of State for Interior, Mr. Humphrey Abba, yesterday, encouraged Nigerians living abroad to acquire the e-passport before December 31 as failure to do so would mean that they may not be able to travel with their old passports.
The minister stated this in Abuja when the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States,Â Professor Ade Adefuye, paid him a courtesy visit.
Abba said,Â â€œWe are going to deploy enough mobile machines to the United Kingdom and Washington to fast track the issuance of the e-passport to Nigerians living abroad.
â€œThere is an enlightenment programme going on in the United States, so that all Nigerians living there will be aware and have no excuses. December 31, 2010 is the dead line for those who already have the machine readable passport to go and register on line through the Immigration Service for the issuance of the e-passport. If by 31 December you do not have the passport, you will have yourself to blame and that is why we are doing the best we can do through the Nigeria Immigration Serviceâ€.
Â Adefuye, in his remarks,Â said he came to find out how far the Immigration ServiceÂ had gone; what has been achieved so far in terms of their own promise and what is going on, on the e-passport.
The envoy said, â€œAs planned, we are ready to deploy the machine for the registration in Washington office and, two weeks from now, they will set them up while registration will commence immediately. We are going to deploy appropriate registration officers to handle the equipment, because the equipment are special, complex and they need specialists who are trained to do the jobâ€.
HeÂ saidÂ the relationship between Nigeria and America isÂ good now, saying any lapse in the issuance of the e- passport would not augur well for the country and on the relationship that is shared with the US.
Â â€œThe old passport will terminate by December 31. The implication is that if you have residential status, you need a vaying passport to put it inside, your green card automatically becomes invalid if it is not embedded in a varying passport.
â€œThe population of Nigerian-born America are about one million while those living in America are about four to five million, that is without a proper census and we have to issue them the e-passportâ€, he added.