– Welcomes new long term policy but rejects BVN requirement
By Codratus Godson
Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State hit out at federal agencies in the state always coming to him cap in hand for financial support. He presented in the form of an appeal, saying he was advising federal agencies to stop depending on state governments for their operations. “Federal Agencies should stop depending fully on State Governments for their operations. The responsibility is too enormous.
“Today, you have asked. The police will ask, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency will ask, the Army will ask and other Federal Agencies will also ask. How are we going to survive”? he said.
Gov Wike commended the Nigeria Immigration Service for introducing the Electronic-Passport (E-Passport) with 10-year validity, saying it will enable Nigerians acquire long-term visas.
Speaking during the roll-out of the enhanced E-Passport in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, Governor Wike also lauded the Immigration Service for the improved security features on the new passport.
The Governor noted that the requirement that all those seeking to obtain the international passport must have National Identity Number is key. “The integration with the national identity number is very important. It is an innovation which is encouraging,” he said.
He commended the Comptroller-General for taking Port Harcourt first in the commencement of the issuance of E-Passport in the South-South and South-East.
Governor Wike, however, said that the requirement that Nigerians must supply their BVN before obtaining the E-Passport is not necessary. “I was surprised yesterday, when I was told to bring my Bank Verification Number (BVN). Assuming I have a child, who is one year old and I want to travel with my child, are you telling me that my child cannot travel, perhaps because he does not have a bank account?
“I told them, you have my salary account, go and check my BVN. I don’t know how the BVN has become a factor in the issuance of international passport. That is not acceptable. If this is the only way that we can check corruption, then we have failed.
“As a Governor, you know my salary, you know my account and this can be collected from the Code of Conduct Bureau. It is not hidden”.
The Governor advised Federal agencies to stop depending on state governments for their operations. “Today, you have asked. The police will ask, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency will ask, the Army will ask and other federal agencies will also ask. How are we going to survive”?
Earlier, the Rivers State Comptroller of Immigration, Segun Adegoke, said that the essence of the E-Passport is to reposition and improve the passport issuance regime and tailor it towards the best global practice.
He said the new regime now offers the options of five years and 10 years validity to save bonafide Nigerians from frequent visits to replace their passports.
Passport Officer, Rivers State Command, AJ Umoh, said that the new E-Passport has new security features like multi laser image, pre-printed features, UV light, infrared, laser engraving and is International civil aviation organization.