The Federal Government on Tuesday inaugurated an electronic Temporary Passport to replace the Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC), for effective identity management.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, explained that the Temporary Passport was an electronic document with all the features of a regular passport.
According to Aregbesola, the difference is that it is temporary and valid for one trip, and will be retrieved from the user at the entry point.
“The Temporary Passport is ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) compliant and is valid for only 30 days.
“It is a replacement for the hitherto Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) which was issued to Nigerians in emergency situations where their Passports were not available and had the need to travel to Nigeria.
“This new document is not a replacement for the Nigerian Passport; it will only serve a temporary purpose in the case of loss or misplacement of the Nigerian Passport by a Nigerian abroad.
“In the light of the present security challenges faced by the country, the Temporary Passport will no doubt help to checkmate the excess of criminal elements that takes advantage of the ETC to infiltrate the country,” he said.
The minister further assured Nigerians having difficulties with obtaining the Nigerian passport that the challenge would soon end.
“We are putting measures in place that will make it very easy to obtain the passport, once they come to fruition,” he said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, commended the Federal Government for the initiative, stating that it was a step in the right direction.
Onyeama, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Gabriel Aduda, stated that oftentimes when there were issues with passport and travels, Nigerians tended to point accusing fingers at the ministry.
He added that with the temporary passport, there would be an organised, serialised and verifiable system of issuing the temporary document.
“This is a commendable achievement not just to the Nigerian Immigration Service but the country as a whole,” he said.
The Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said that the temporary passport would be valid for 30 days from the day of issuance, adding that once you arrived in the country you cannot travel back with it.
“Embassies have been complaining to us on our temporary passport which does not have a database or biometric features. This, however, has been a huge security threat to us and the host country.
“The temporary passport is a document with blue colour and contains four pages which have passport photograph inside.
“ It has enhanced our data system that means, it is connected to our data page and there is an end to end connectivity with what is captured and what is in our data page,” he said.