The looming scarcity of Nigerian passports is attributed to a staggering N16 billion debt, according to emerging reports.

nigerian passport
Nigerian passport

The issue arises from the failure to settle significant production debts owed to vendors and key stakeholders in the passport value chain.

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Information obtained indicates that unless the federal government intervenes by halting its monthly deduction of 50 percent of funds from the Nigeria Immigration Service’s (NIS) Treasury Single Account (TSA) generated from passport sales, the impending shortage of passport booklets may persist.

A reliable source from the passport office at the Nigeria Immigration Service headquarters, speaking on condition of anonymity, clarified that there is a misconception regarding the allocation of gross income from passport applicants. While it is assumed that this income is directed to the NIS TSA for payment to stakeholders, the federal government deducts 50 percent before funds are allocated, leaving insufficient funds for the Immigration Service to meet its obligations.

The source highlighted the consequences of this deduction, citing instances where 32-page passport booklets are in short supply across both domestic and international outlets. Although there is an excess of 64-page booklets, demand for them remains low.

The staggering debt owed to service providers, totaling N16 billion, has resulted in printed booklets being stranded in warehouses. These booklets, intended for delivery to the NIS, are held up in Nigeria Customs Service and DHL warehouses due to outstanding debts.

Efforts to address the crisis include the Interior Minister’s initiative to secure grants amounting to approximately N10 billion. However, this amount falls short of making a significant impact in resolving the issue.

Stakeholders and experts advocate for the return of the total funds deducted from the passport production TSA to its rightful recipients. There are discussions of reaching out to President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to address the matter and appeal to relevant authorities to reconsider the deduction policy.