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Scarcity of Nigerian International Passport may continue so long as…

More facts have emerged on why the current scarcity of Nigerian International Passport may last.

Investigations by Business Hilights show that there is acute scarcity of Nigerian International Passport and the reasons include the continued minting of the booklet in Malaysia and the purchase of many of the chips from Netherlands.

Though checks at two popular passport offices in Lagos including Festac Town Passport office and Ikoyi showed that whereas 32 paged booklet is nowhere to be found, 64 paged booklet can be available depending on the ability of the applicant to do ‘certain runs’ within the rank and files of senior Immigration officers.

A top official confided in our correspondent that “On very special arrangement’ a serious applicant can get the ‘golden 32 paged. Though he was silent on the meaning of the special arrangement, some of the touts who partner with top officials in running the passport syndicate said the special arrangement is your ability to do as they say.

One of the touts confided in Business Hilights at Ikoyi Passport office that “It’s like the Immigration had some payment issues with the Malaysian company and that is why the 32 paged booklet shad been scarce”.

Explaining more on the reasons why many countries may not be able to mint their passport in the near future, Managing Director of IRIS Smart Technologies Limited (ISTL), Olayinka Fisher, said the cost of the security chips embedded in the booklet leaves is very high and the chips are the main features that define a quality international passport after all.

He said Nigeria was not even the only country depending on foreign components for its e-Passport, noting that over 90 countries buy the chips for their e-Passports from the same company in Netherlands.

On why the chips remain costly, he averred that setting up a chip manufacturing company will gulp about $3 billion and as such, most countries feel it is cheaper to import finished products for their passports.

The expert said “There is no chip manufacturing company in Nigeria, even in the world, 94 countries buy their chip for the passport from the same company in Netherlands in Holland because to set up a chip manufacturing company is about $3 billion. So, why do you want to buy a cow when you can buy milk?

“The back cover of our passport is made by the international companies that do it and all the countries in the world buy from them. The thread that we sow the stitching from is a specialized security thread that is made especially for the country. So, when you add up these entire components, the only component that you can do in Nigeria is to print. Even to print, most countries now don’t use their government printer,” he averred.