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INTERVIEW: Buhari’s Deadline To End Insecurity Will Be Achieved – Aregbesola

  The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, highlights the improvement recorded in the ministry and its agencies between 2019 and now, and efforts taken to end insecurity in Nigeria. He spoke during an interview with Radio Nigeria which was monitored by YUSUF OKETOLA of OSUN DEFENDER on Tuesday. Excerpt: Your office is saddled with…”
September 24, 2022 7:31 am


The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, highlights the improvement recorded in the ministry and its agencies between 2019 and now, and efforts taken to end insecurity in Nigeria. He spoke during an interview with Radio Nigeria which was monitored by YUSUF OKETOLA of OSUN DEFENDER on Tuesday. Excerpt:

Your office is saddled with security architecture of the country; what would you say is your biggest challenge?

I wouldn’t really say anything is challenging, when you have an assignment; you are to do it. As to what I can say is the most difficult challenge, if I want to be honest with myself, I seem to enjoy tackling issues that I know will bring joy and happiness to Nigerians. I am happy to tell Nigerians that passport issuance in our administration, to me is very important to Nigerians, and I think I have given it some serious consideration within the period of tenure. So far in the administration, and I am happy to say that we have recorded quite substantial improvement in that area of passport issuance administration. So, I am happy with that. It is not as if it is challenging, but I know Nigerians are so sensitive to it and I have given it a lot of attention and consideration. That for me is an area that I’m very keen at. Not that we have solved all the issues there, but we have made tremendous improvement.

Your ministry is key to the Ease of Doing Business in the country. What have you done to improve this area?

Let start from expatriate quota administration; it is digitised now. Those who need the service of ministry in getting business permit, expatriate quota grant don’t have to meet anybody. They just simply go online and do whatever they have to do online. We have reduced to a very significant level, person-to-person contact in the administration of business permit and expatriate quota allocation. That considerably must have affected ease of doing business. This administration too has been very well improved upon. In 2020, we launched New Visa Policy. What that simply means is eliminating the confusion in visa processing. We increased the categories of which visa available to Nigerians from 60 to 79. It means we categorise all professions, all engagements and interest, such that if you want to come to Nigeria, we know who you are, what you want to do and where you are likely to be. Again, it is digitised. You don’t need to know anybody for visa application. Go online, apply for visa and get it. We have removed paperwork, it is now fully electronic. We have in all our borders what we call minders. Minders is an electronic based system in administering visa process on entry to Nigeria. This too must have aided the ease of doing business. There is visa on arrival, you don’t need to go to our embassy. If you want to visit Nigeria, go online, process your visa and get to the airport. Process your visa and you will get visa on arrival. That again supports the ease of doing business. The most valuable of what we have done that could aid ease of doing business is what we call Advance Personnel System. Now, anybody coming to Nigeria is known to us in advance. As you are processing your ticket anywhere in the world to come to Nigeria, you are already registered on our portals and our people are waiting for you at the airport. Again, that supports ease of doing business. The passport thing I have mentioned again cannot be eliminated from the ease of doing business, because if Nigerians must meet their business partners overseas, they need an authentic travel document. All of this, I believe, must have supported the ease of doing business. We are working in concert with other agencies to make business comfortable, easy and enjoyable in Nigeria.  

The Correctional Service, an agency under your ministry, has been under public scrutiny recently over jail attacks. What efforts have you made to curb that?

First of all, it is unfortunate that there were those attacks. No administration will be happy to experience such violation of such sacred facility or institution. It is quite disturbing and depressed. They have situated it in the context of our general experience as a nation. It is regrettable but we must admit that there are challenges. 

As to what we are doing, we have been doing many things to fortify our facilities. We are redesigning the entire custodial system to make it restorative. The world is moving away from a punitive facility where offenders are subjected to some harsh treatment and not given all their right to liberty, freedom and self-control are restricted. It is no longer a restrictive institution. It is now a restorative institution. Also, we have declared our custodial facilities as a national asset. In addition to conventional arm guard of the correctional service, we now have the civil defence joining them, we have the armed squad of the immigration joining them and we have the military and the police, the mobile, the anti-terrorism squad and several others. We have generally increased the protection of most of our facilities with difficult inmates. One cannot be too sure, but we have upgraded the security of the facilities that could be target of attack.

Nigeria is no doubt being challenged security-wise; what is your ministry doing to make the country more secure?

Security is not a thing that you should shout about. If I deployed CCTV cameras somewhere, I won’t tell you where they are installed. It is not meant for people to know that I have such a surveillance thing. What I will tell Nigerians is that; we are upping our game and it is quite apparent now in the way we are managing the security situation in Nigeria. I want to believe in the last one month and there about, there have been improvement in the control and managing the dastardly effect of bandits, insurgent and other criminals that want to make life difficult for our people. We are upping the game and we are very confident that we will meet the deadline giving by the president. 

Just last week, the president granted the status of Nigeria national to 286 foreigners. Enlighten us on the criteria for that approval.

Over a thousand people applied for Nigeria citizenship and it took not less than three years to process those applications, and for 286 to scale through it, Nigerians must know that they must have satisfied all the rules and regulations of the requirements. It is quite tough. Nigeria citizenship is one of the most difficult and complex in the world. Human beings will always be human being. But all I know, none of them has stayed for nothing less than 15 years continuously in Nigeria. Virtually all of them are related to an indigenous community in Nigeria, to the extent that hardly could anyone of them not speak a native dialect in Nigeria, and without a community supporting their application, it is impossible for them to get the citizenship of Nigeria. Beside the community, the state government must equally recommend and sponsor their citizenship application. It must go through security screening, not only for our own security agencies, but the higher agencies in Nigeria. It is quite cumbersome and complex process to get Nigeria citizenship and by the way, the organ that ultimately support the president to grant that citizenship is the Federal Executive Council. When you look at the process and the organ that finally support the presidential approval, you will know that it is not an easy hurdle to cross to get the country citizenship.

Barely seven months away to the general elections, what do you have to tell Nigerians about the security being put in place for that big event? 

President Muhammadu Buhari has given us the deadline that by December, we must put this security issue behind us, and he told Nigerians that he will give a safe and secure nation and I believe that will happen.

The Nigeria Immigration Service has challenges in delivering passports to the applicants. What are the challenges and how are you mitigating them?

If Nigerians themselves support our process, there would not be any problem at all in passport issuance. In the first instance, either your passport is reissue, renewal or fresh application, plan it on time and with time. Don’t wait until your passport is expired. Once you leave anxiety out of your passport renewal or fresh, it would not be that difficult. If you wait till when you want to travel to begin the process, you will have problem and that time, your anxiety will lead you to patronising touts and scammers or racketeers. When you lead yourself to that dubious process, you will pay the price for it or face the consequence.

If you start your processing of passport early, you will just do it with ease. What we are doing is this and we have been improving. I am not saying we have totally eliminated all the challenges. By December, there will be no more man-to-man contact. The less man-to-man or human-to-human in any of these processes in either during passport issuance or business quota. The more of human-to-human contact, the higher the chances of you getting to scammers and people who want to extort you. On passport basically, by December, God willing, we would have automated the process and there will be no more man-to-man contact. With that, I want to tell Nigerians that the few challenges there will be over. We are going to open several processes centers across the country. That will ease the pressure of our highly patronise centres.

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