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NIS Muhammed Babandede

‘Cabals’ involved in printing Nigerian passports in Malaysia can’t allow NSPMC—BHIU

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A two months investigation carried out by the Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU), a research arm of Business Hilights publications has come out with a revelation that “Even though the upgraded Nigeria Security Printing & Minting Corporation (NSPMC) systems can effectively handle the printing of Nigerian International Passport, the cable associated with the deal of producing the passport in Malaysia cannot allow that to happen”.

The report noted that “Each of the top officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) that had at one time in the past, raised issues on the need for the reversal of the Malaysian printing deal had always got it hotter than he or she envisaged and that has compelled others to avoid talking about or challenging the capital flight ring up till now.

For several years now and since security features on the passport increased to about 1,000, the Nigerian green passports are printed abroad and in Malaysia in particular”.

“Whereas it is clear that the NSPMC has the capacity to produce passports and other immigration documents, the ring handling the Malaysian printing deal is so powerful that no amount of pressure from anywhere can end the national bleeding which has been going on for year, causing seasonal scarcity of the international document for Nigerians from time to time.

“We are worried that from statistics even provided by NIS, it spent N28bn to procure passports which only generated N14bn, meaning that the nation is running at a huge loss as far as printing international passport is concerned.

passport Nigeria
The truth is that for more than two years now, scarcity of 32 paged Passport booklets had been frustrating our activities.
Currently, only few Passport offices can boost of the 64 paged booklets which many applicants do not like. We have been telling our authorities to see what they can do to stop minting the booklets in Malaysia but highly connected people who reap from the deal have continued to have their way as Nigerians continue to suffer for the short supply in the last three years, a top official of Nigerian Immigration Service told Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) on grounds of anonymity in one of the Lagos Passport offices.

“Besides, contrary to official rate of less than N8,000 or less, it takes an average of N25,000 to N40,000 to secure either 32 paged or 64 paged passport in majority of NIS outlets and several NIS officers failed to give a clear answer as to why the cost is higher and at the same time, government is running at a loss after all.

“This is why Nigerian Passports are momentarily scarce, thus leading to queues and much delays capable of encouraging corruption in the process of accessing the booklet by desperate Nigerian travelers from time to time,” the BHIU report averred.

In the report, it was stated that “On a yearly basis, more than 65 per cent of all generated revenue and to some extent, budgetary allocation are used to pay up debts owed ‘Malaysian passport printing company and their local collaborators”.

This aspect of the report can be said to have been proven by the leadership of the Service in its recent briefing that out of N38.2 billion generated in 2017, N28 billion was paid to private firms printing international passports on its behalf.

Just as it is clear that the above figure is more than 70 percent of its revenue made between January 1 and December 31, 2017, additional details from the Comptroller General of the agency, Mohammed Babandede, who spoke at an operational review meeting with zonal coordinators and state comptrollers’ of the agency at its Abuja national headquarters, made it clear that the Service generated the said amount and spent N28bn on passports.

Experts say if the documents were printed at NSPMC, the government would have saved well over half of the capital flight with steady presence of passports for Nigerians to seamlessly apply and get on time.

According to Babandede, the generated N38.2 billion was made from its local revenue sources as follows: Passport revenue (N14 billion); ECOWAS/AA (N72.1 million); Address Verification Fee (N2 billion); Non-refundable admin fees (N186 million); CERPAC (N20 billion); ePASS (N1.6 billion).

The Comptroller-General further stated that another N9.3 billion ($29 million) was also made from its foreign collection which was remitted directly to the federation accounts, being a dollar-denominated revenue.

The monies were collected from passports which were remitted into FG/JP Morgan account ($28.8 million) and Carrier Liability/Visa on arrival ($1 million).

Babandede revealed that Iris Smart Technologies got N10.3 billion in the year under review. Iris is a passport tech-savvy firm. Others are Newwork Solutions, N1.4 billion; Greater Washington, N744 million, and Contec (CERPAC/ePASS), N15.7 billion.

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