The Federal Government has stated why it imposed charges and levies on Nigerians in the diaspora at their various foreign missions.
The government said that the imposition is due to a lack of funds to run operations at the foreign missions.
This was made known when the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, and the Controller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammed Babandede, both appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs in Abuja on Tuesday where they explained how they were addressing issues affecting Nigerians in other countries.
Onyema, at the 2-day investigative hearing organized by the committee, noted that the charges had been in existence and were only suspended.
What the Minister for Foreign Affairs is saying
The Foreign Affairs Minister said, “The $100 they (Nigerians in the US) said has been added is voluntary; it is just for those who want to have their biometrics done without an appointment. If you wait for your appointment, you will get it (done) and not pay. But if you want it the same day, then pay $100.”
Onyema also said his ministry has concluded plans to make Nigerians in the diaspora have access to a 24/7 call centre in Nigeria that would take complaints from across the world.
What the Controller General of NIS is saying
On the other hand, the Controller General of the NIS described the shortage of passport booklets as the biggest challenge facing the service.
Babandede said, “The passport is the biggest challenge. When we talk about passports, the challenges are ours; some of the challenges are with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and some are with Nigerians themselves. On our side, we have the huge challenge of scarcity of passport booklets.”
He lamented that the NIS had only 47 offices across Nigeria despite the huge population of the country.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, while acknowledging the presentations by Babandede and Onyema, which shed a lot of light on happenings and innovations going on in immigration, she revealed that her agency is going to set up a NIDCOM app which can be downloaded by all Nigerians in diaspora for their complaints and all.
She also said that the diaspora commission will soon launch an Internet radio, where they are going to have communication all the time with our brothers and sisters in the diaspora. So, the key thing is communication.”
What this means
- This charge by foreign missions is only experienced by Nigerians in Diaspora who wish to get express service from these missions.
- Those that still go through the normal channel of appointment will not bear this extra cost.
- Nigerian missions which have been hit by cash shortage are looking for ways to generate extra revenue for their operations.