By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
The Nigeria Immigration Service as an Institution of government established by the act of parliament in 1963 will be 57 years in August, 2020, by this age long statistics, having gone through fifteen leadership styles and administration, and now has the 16th Comptroller General in the person of Muhammad Babandede MFR.
One can see reasons for the mega transformations from one stage to another from handwritten passport to the Machine Readable passport and now polycarbonate enhanced e-passport, from rubber stamp visas to electronic Biometric Visa, from cash payment to online payments, and online applications for VISAS, Passport etc
Findings revealed that for the first time in 57 chequered years, Immigration agencies in the Sub-Region and International bodies are visiting the NIS Headquarters to study how the leadership has turned around the system.
It was also learnt that the service has received in audience ECOWAS heads of Immigration in strategic meeting in Abuja Nigeria.Gambian Immigration Department came on study tour, many International police and border security agencies have visited to deliberate on international collaboration on how to align with international best practices in giving Nigerians a dignified travel to those countries and staying to work or do legitimate businesses with dignity.
According to compilation by the national public relations officer of the agency, Sunday James, a Deputy Comptroller, NiS has championed the safe return program for Nigerians with a lot of countries and development partners, which has further boosted Nigerian image abroad.
The Passport to Safe Migration campaign began with a script conceptualized by the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service Muhammad Babandede MFR many years before becoming the Comptroller General and it became a documentary that gained the support of international development partners including IOM(International Organization for Migration) and the national campaign engaged in the 36 states and FCT with the document”passport to Safe Migration ” further exposed the dangers of Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants as written in the document copies.
Each was shared at all passport control centres to applicants during the sensitization çampaign which yielded positive results in the discouragement and frustration of the activities of human traffickers ànd Smuggling of Migrants, with relative drop recorded and several attempted travels and syndicates arrested at the Airports and Land border control posts.
The evolution from handwritten passports to, Machine Readable passport, and e-passport to the present Bicarbonate, enhanced passport is à thing of celebration if one understands how passport ratings and standard dictates the treatment meted on citizens when traveling across international boundaries, one will give kudos to the NIS for the passport Reforms that had attracted CNN documentary and Commendation for Nigeria and Nigerians as the most widely traveled, the best, gifted and highly skilled in the world in almost every field of endeavour but had to travel with the green passport first, before they will have the privilege of another as dual citizens as the case may be.
The Nigerian green passport has been a tool for the moulding of the destiny of many Nigerians abroad. We must celebrate Nigeria and the green passport with which they travel out before securing a place out there.
The various generation of passport was part of the history of NIS transformation both as a Nation and Organization. It has been transformed to a modern service with digital pull over in its operations and with the Technology Building many advance services will be unfolded to serve the citizens better and foreign entities alike, the NIS transformation within four years is mind blowing and a product of transformation.
The agency will soon conduct a virtual exhibition of NIS at 57 on its website come August, 2020 for take aways on NIS Transformations.