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Modernizing the Nigerian Immigration Service

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C-G Immigration Muhummad Babandede has initiated far-reaching reforms and changes to reposition and modernize the service since he came on board

Hitherto, when some sensitive Federal Government organizations such as the Police, Customs, NEPA, Immigration Service, etc. were mentioned, people associated them with corruption and inefficiency. 

Today, such perception is fading away thereby giving room for positive public goodwill for some of these organizations. 

The new found goodwill is traceable to notable reforms and radical changes introduced in these organizations which have de-emphasized ‘’the business as usual” syndrome.

One born again organization that is worth mentioning is the Nigerian Immigration Service where its current Comptroller General Muhammad Babandede [pictured above] has initiated far-reaching reforms and changes to reposition and modernize the service since he came on board in May, 2016.

There is a common saying in Nigeria’s leadership cycle which is traceable to the former United States Secretary Of State and Presidential Hopeful, Hilary Clinton who had used her visit to Nigeria sometime in the past to charge Nigerians to develop strong institutions and do away with the strong individual syndrome prevalent in the country to guarantee sustainable development.

Babandede has keyed into this Clinton’s model by charging the media and public affairs commentators to avoid locating the development momentum in the Service to his person. 

For the current NIS Boss, he has a vision of developing world class and strong Nigerian Immigration Service that will outlive all of us and remain sustainable no matter who is in charge.

Therefore, this old fashion of saying, this person did this or that as NIS Boss is not part of Babandede’s style and vision.  

He wants all credits to go to the Service and not to him as an individual. This is also part of the modernization strategy in NIS.

However, as a writer, journalist and public affairs commentator of many years standing, I find it difficult to divorce the actors in the system from the changes, growth and development in the system. 

When we say that Nigerian Immigration Service is being modernized, we are saying that the service is embracing international best practices in immigration matters in line with the current trends of globalization and that the old ways of doing things are being phased out with new ways in terms of vision and mission, service delivery, integrity of persons and processes, transparency and accountability, staff welfare and training, equipment and operational tools, etc.

There is a deluge of changes and reforms which is a radical departure from the past of the service in the last few months. 

The lazy, unproductive and corrupt culture of ‘’business as usual” has been prohibited in the Service. 

The men and officers of the Service has been re-oriented to jettison old and unproductive practices and embrace new and resulted oriented practices.

 Consequently, the ‘’return system” in the Service where senior officers or officers in strategic or sensitive positions are compromised or settled with the proceeds of corruption to do the opposite and the unethical things have been discouraged in the service. 

As a matter of fact, the ‘’return system” was one of the nasty practices which placed NIS among some top corrupt federal government organizations but the new NIS leadership frowns at the dirty practice and is doing everything humanly possible to obliterate it from the Service. 

The dollarization of foreign postings which make men and officers in the Service to purse dollars rather than service to one’s fatherland is seriously discouraged. 

NIS does no longer welcome pressure from the elite and the powerful in the society lobbying for juicy foreign postings of their family members and friends. 

The men and officers of NIS have been re-oriented to see their country and service to their country first before any other consideration and this is actually working because the high and the mighty are scared of influencing any foreign posting.

Hitherto, officers and men in the service play god in the system thereby escalating corruption because they overstay in any posting as long as they enjoy the favour of those above but this unhealthy practice has crashed because the new rule limits officers’ posting to a maximum of two years.

The current Nigerian Immigration Service is going to witness the automation of its operations which phases out the manual carrying of files from one office to another. 

With this automation system, files can be processed on-line while payments for NIS will be done on-line which will improve efficiency, service delivery and reduce touting and corruption. 

Already the Management of NIS has resumed negotiations with reputable consultants to integrate the automation system in the Service.

Interestingly, the frustrating timeline for the production of passports has been reviewed and reduced with a new directive that passports can be issued within 72 hours and there is evidently a substantial compliance to this directive.  

In fact, the change of data in passports has been decentralized to states which reduces costs, transportation risks and burdens and improve service delivery for those who want to change their data on account of marriage or due to loss of previous ones. 

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