Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has faulted the move by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for its introduction of Bank Verification Number (BVN) as a requirement for issuance of an electronic-passport.
Despite lauding the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for introducing the e-passport with 10-year validity that would enable Nigerians to acquire long-term visas, the governor argued that the new requirement was uncalled for.
The governor made the statement during the rollout of the enhanced travel document in Port Harcourt by the State Comptroller of Immigration, Mr Segun Adegoke, yesterday.
He said, “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?”
He explained that since the organization has access to his salary account, they should go and check the BVN.
“I don’t know how the BVN has become a factor in the issuance of an 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,” he said.
Wike, however, was impressed by the improved security features on the new passport.
“The integration with the national identity number is very important. It is an innovation which is encouraging,” he said.
The governor also advised federal agencies to stop depending on the state governments for their operations.
He noted that almost all security agencies will ask for the same requirement at one time or the other. “How are we going to survive?” he queried.
Meanwhile, Governor Wike and his wife, Justice Suzzette Nyesom-Wike, were both captured and presented with the new passport.
He, therefore, commended the Comptroller-General for taking Port Harcourt first in the commencement of the issuance of the document in the South-South and South-East zones.
Appealing to the Rivers State people, the governor called on them to take advantage of the opportunity to obtain their international passports.
He said, “I want to thank you for this innovation. I know that since you launched it here, I should also do something good, but not today. I urge our people to take advantage of this facility to ensure you come to get your international passport. Also, go and register for your National Identity card, it is very important.”