Nigerians have complained in writing to interior minister Rauf Aregbesola about the lack of passport booklets at the Nigerian embassy and consulates in the United States, warning that diplomats and other staff members are in “grave danger.”
“If this shortage of passport booklets should continue, we are afraid that the safety of the consulate officials as well as the Nigeria House, New York and other Nigerian missions in the United States may be in grave danger,” they warned. “The recent unwarranted aggression towards our fellow citizens working in our consulates is not an aberration. It is the product of consistent consulate’s inability to provide basic consular services to them.’’
They stated their dissatisfaction with getting their passports in a letter signed by Francis James, a board member of the Organization for the Advancement of Nigerians (OAN, Inc.), and other leaders of 16 Nigerian organisations.
On June 29, OAN organized a virtual town hall meeting to examine the difficulties Nigerians had obtaining passports and to consider solutions.
OAN called the meeting after learning that the New York embassy had ceased issuing passports for four weeks prior to June 28.
As for the scarcity of passport booklets in Nigeria, Mr. Aregbesola had claimed on June 16 that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was dealing with “human challenges.”
The populace requested Mr. Aregbesola to collaborate with Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, to issue sufficient passport booklets.
“This will enable the consulate in New York to clear the backlogs at all processing locations and ensure that Passport processing from application to issuance is completed within a reasonable time frame of not more than three months,” they stated in the letter. “The ministry should expand the number of available appointments on the central portal to at least 100 each day, or to the number each embassy or consulate has the capacity to handle.”
They also denounced the needless hardship endured by Nigerians as a result of the ongoing lack of passport booklets.
An official at the consulate who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the development and stated that the mission received 2,000 booklets on June 29 and had promptly resumed passport issue after a four-week hiatus.
The source acknowledged that there were 7,000 passports in the consulate’s backlog that needed to be cleared, and that Nigerians in New York could get by on a constant supply of 2,500 passport booklets every month.
The source claims that the consulate typically receives 1,000 booklets every month and occasionally 500.