The number of passports issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service increased by 38% between 2020 and 2021, according to The PUNCH.
This represents an increase from 767,164 to 1,059,607 passports issued in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
According to NIS data, the passport types included standard, official, diplomatic, emergency travel certificates, refugee passports, and conventional travel documents.
In 2020 and 2021, that equates to approximately 2,081 and 2,853 passports issued every 24 hours.
According to the United Kingdom immigration report for the time period under consideration, 13,609 Nigerian healthcare workers were granted work visas. Only India has more practitioners, with 42,966.
According to the African Polling Institute’s Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey 2021, seven out of ten Nigerians would leave their country if given the chance.
Further investigation revealed that over 19,000 skilled work and study visas were granted to Nigerians in 2019. However, by 2021, that figure had risen by 210 percent, to 59,000.
Furthermore, according to data obtained from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, 12,595 Nigerians emigrated to Canada in 2019. The NIS issued 1,198,274 passports that year, for a daily average of 3,282 passports.
Closer examination of Nigerians fleeing the country revealed a diverse range of professionals, including academics, medical doctors, nurses, and technology experts, who are reportedly resigning from positions in many local banks in order to take advantage of the UK’s skilled work visas or equivalent visas in other countries of their choice.
More citizens are also leaving the country to study, mostly in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
In an interview with The PUNCH, Mr Ariyo-Dare Atoye, Executive Director of Adopt A Goal Initiative, argued that the increasing number of Nigerians obtaining passports was directly related to the high emigration rate caused by the harsh economic realities and security challenges of the previous decade.
Nonetheless, the new passport regime implemented in the middle of last year may have contributed to the ease with which many applicants can obtain a passport.
That figure, he claims, will rise if the country fails to elect credible leaders in the upcoming elections. “Numbers do not lie,” he explained.
“Check the Nigerian Medical Association’s statistics to see how many doctors have left in the last two years.” Many Nigerians took advantage of the pandemic lockdown to look for opportunities around the world. They looked for jobs and other opportunities all over the world, and many people were successful in finding one or the other. As a result, when the travel ban was lifted, people began to take advantage of the opportunity. And more Nigerians are likely to relocate.
“This will be reduced only if we have the right leadership in 2023.” However, as we speak, the trigger is not due to the effective system put in place by the Nigerian Immigration Service. Rather, it is because a large number of Nigerians are leaving the country. “They look for opportunities elsewhere because they are tired of the situation at home,” he added.
Speaking with our correspondent, activist and Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, stated that many citizens who remained in the country were simply biding their time before leaving.
“Nigerians are tired of the system. That is why they are leaving the country, and more people will leave if the next election does not turn out well. The election has piqued the interest of young people.
“In its current form, Nigeria resembles a concentration camp.” “And if you doubt me, let the UK offer visa-free access to Nigerians for one week in the spirit of the Queen’s death and see how many people move,” Adeyanju said.