House demands urgent measures on passport shortages

Lawan Hamidu, Abuja

The House of Representatives has called for urgent measures to address the challenges militating against the supply of passport booklets for Nigerians.

This was contained in a motion on Urgent Need to Address the Scarcity of Nigerian Passport Booklets, presented before the House on Thursday.

Leading the debate on the floor, Ayodeji Joseph from Lagos State, decried the acute shortage of Nigerian passport booklets in recent times.

Shortage causing hardship
“It’s causing a lot of hardships on citizens wishing to acquire passports, thus leading to long queues at immigration offices across the country and increased patronage of touts who hang around Immigration offices,”
he explained.

Contributing to the debate, Nnenna Ukeje while assuring the people that the issue would be resolved, admitted that the scarcity of the passport has to do with the manufacturers and suppliers.

Mr. Johnson Oguma from Edo State called for thorough investigation and lasting solution to end the scarcity.

The lawmakers unanimously agreed that government should do anything possible to address the issue of the travelling document and devise sustainable means to ensure worldwide availability.

The scarcity started in 2016 when the company supplying stopped supplying the 32 page passport booklets and demanded for an upward review of the price of the booklet. It cited increased cost of production due to the low exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar.

National flag
The House also passed the second reading a Bill seeking to provide stiffer penalty of N100, 000 for people who distort the country’s national flag.

The sponsor, Sam Onuigbo from Abia State said the bill, designed to amend Flag and Coat of Arms Act 2004 would make further provisions to preserve the national heritage.

He expressed worry over the surreptitious effort to change the national flag as many public and government offices construct the Coat-of Arms on it.

“Especially the official photographs of many governors, ministers and even National Assembly members. It is important to declare that any addition, subtraction or super imposition outside the version designed by Pa Michael Akinkunmi in 1959 is not the Nigerian flag.

“Also any person who flies or exhibits the national flag which is deconstructed, thereby creating an impression of using the national flag, where actually the flag is deconstructed shall be guilty of an offence against the Act.

Similarly, any person who uses the national coat and inserts same into the national flag thereby creating an illegal form of our national flag shall be guilty of an offence against this act,’’ Onuigbo said.

Nicholas Ossai flayed government offices that violate the Act, describing the distortion of the national flag as ‘disrespect for the national pride.

Mercy Chukwudiebere