… As FG inaugurates enhanced e-passport in UK***
The Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) says normal flights operations have resumed at all airports.
The Managing Director, NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkoutu confirmed the development in a statement in Lagos on Tuesday.
He said this followed the intervention of the agency in the impending strike by the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) on Tuesday.
Akinkoutu explained that the strike was suspended to pave way for a follow-up meeting between the agency and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) on Tuesday evening.
“We wish to inform the general public that the NATCA strike has been suspended, following the intervention of NAMA management.
“Hence, normalcy has been restored, as the Flow Control, earlier embarked upon by members of the Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association today was suspended.
“The above suspension is to pave way for a follow-up meeting between NAMA management, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the association, scheduled to hold later today,” said Akinkoutu.
He, therefore, assured airspace users and the general public that the Nigerian airspace remained safe for seamless and economic air travels.
He said the agency also regretted any inconveniences caused earlier in the day before the new development.
In the meantime, the Federal Government has inaugurated enhanced e-passport to improve the passport application process for Nigerians at home and abroad.
Mr Sola Fasure, the Media Adviser to the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made known in a statement he issued on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the minister made the disclosure at the official rollout of the enhanced e-passport at the Nigerian High Commission, London.
The minister, who revealed that the Nigerian passport was the highest affirmation of Nigerian citizenship, noted that it was the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide the passport without any stress and within a reasonable period.
“What we have come to do here (UK) is symbolic of the core mandate of the ministry and indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria affirmation of citizenship integrity.
“As we are all aware, there have been huge challenges in passport administration, from shortage of booklet to touting and an economy of corruption built around it.
“These challenges have persisted for too long and a lot of people have become cynical while others have taken them as normal and then roll with it.
“But I come from a tradition of problem-solving in public administration.
“I do not believe that any problem is insurmountable, so we are going to solve all the problems associated with passport administration and we are already succeeding, “ he said.
On the features of the enhanced passport, Aregbesola noted that it was a big improvement over the standard passport that was introduced back in 2007.
He said it has more sophisticated security features, making it one of the most secured passports in the world.
“The enhanced e-passport is a great improvement on the biometric passport technology which Nigeria adopted in 2007 as a strategic step towards curbing forgery.
“Impersonation and other forms of frauds associated with obtaining travel documents under the old machine-readable passport regime.
“We are aware that technology rules the world and we are keeping abreast of the latest development in the field.
“Over the years, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) had worked assiduously and in close synergy with Messrs Iris Smart Technologies Limited to develop and implement passport reforms,’’ he said.
Aregbesola said the reforms are in tandem with international best practices, including extant International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Standards and Regulations.
The minister, who seized the opportunity to reel out some of the achievements of the NIS under his tenure, noted that the service had issued a total of 2.7 million Nigerian passports in the past two years.
“ We have taken substantial measures to address the issue of shortage of passport booklets.
“In 2021, the ministry approved the deployment of over 600,000 booklets, the largest of its kind ever done.
“That is not all.
The NIS, through MIDAS, is now connected to INTERPOL and can upload information to the agency on lost, stolen and invalidated passports in real-time.
“The ministry has consistently provided the enabling environment for the NIS to undertake and implement several reforms especially, with regard to border management and passport administration, as well as internal monitoring and control mechanisms,“ he said.
According to him, the aim is to enhance efficient and effective service delivery to Nigerians and foreigners alike,” the minister said.
In his remarks, the Acting Comptroller-General of NIS, Isa Jere, expressed the service’s readiness to meet the demands for passports in the UK.
Jere stated that his officers were ever ready to roll out the new passports at the official rate published on the NIS website.
“We are ready to serve the public and start rolling out the new enhanced e-passport in the UK with immediate effect. Our staff are professionals and will deliver excellent service to our citizens.
“Those who have any complaints whatsoever are advised to use the publicly listed complaints channels to adequately resolve any issues raised,” Jere advised.