Thursday, January 17, 2019
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THE recent scarcity of Nigerian International Passport booklets across the country has subjected many intending travellers to untold hardship. The experience of a United Kingdom-based Nigerian citizen who came home to renew his expired passport and ended up spending over three months in a hotel waiting for the document, illustrates what most applicants went through. ADVERTISING Passport The Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) blamed the situation on the foreign exchange rate differentials between the time the contract for its production was awarded by the last administration and the present dispensation. The high exchange rate which expectedly impacted on the cost of production, was another reason for the scarcity. Some Immigration officials engage in passport racketeering through syndicates, thereby creating artificial shortages. The Nigerian International Passport is a right of every citizen. The booklet is Nigeria’s identity in foreign countries across the world. Only a negligible percentage of the population demand for it . NIS is the only statutory agency of the Federal Government charged with the responsibility of producing the document and making it available on demand, thus, there is no excuse for its unavailability at any point in time. The development was a reflection of government’s commitment to important issues of entry and exit from the country. The Federal Government appeared nonchalant in its response to request for upward review of the contract signed with the last administration due to the Naira depreciation. Iris Smart Technology Nigeria Limited(ISLT), the sole supplier of the Nigerian Passport made the request last year but nothing was done until the NIS ran out of supply. Government’s disapproval of a demand for hike in the cost of obtaining the travel document which the NIS made in March 2016 also helped make the scarcity inevitable. A similar request by ISTL was declined. The company’s stoppage of supply since the middle of last year compounded the situation. Nigerians need not go through harrowing experience before they obtain their country’s international passport. It should be a seamless process. That applicants from neighbouring South South and South East states traveled to the Calabar Command of the NIS at the height of the scarcity to obtain passport is unacceptable. We appreciate the fact that normalcy is now restored to the entire process. Government is a continuum and successive administrations should be committed to important contractual obligations of its predecessor, especially when it concerns sensitive issue like our passport. If local resources are well harnessed, Nigeria has the capacity to produce the booklets locally without compromising its international standard and quality. It is noteworthy that the authorities are already considering that option especially when the 10-year contract signed with the Malaysia-based ISTL in 2007 expires this month. We call on the Federal Government to extend the passport life span to 10 years as it is the case in most countries. German 3 Bedrooms Breaking news stories Cartoons

For a better society

Adama Barrow, born on February 16, 1965, will be sworn in  on Thursday as President of The Gambia, having won the presidential election of 2016. He is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).  Prior to his presidential campaign, he was the treasurer of the UDP and operated a real estate agency. He established the agency, Majum Real Estate, in 2006 after returning from studies in London, England. He was initially going to become President on January 19, 2017, but on January 18, the Gambia Parliament, voted to extend incumbent Yahya Jammeh’s term by 90 days.

Early life and education

Barrow was born in Mankamang Kunda, a small Jimara village near Basse. He first attended the local Koba Kunda Primary School and then Crab Island Secondary School in Banjul before receiving a scholarship for Muslim High School. After graduation, he worked for Alhagie Musa & Sons and rose through the ranks until he became sales manager. Barrow then moved to London in the early 2000s, where he studied for a degree in real estate, while working as a security guard at an Argos catalogue store to finance his studies.

Business career

Barrow returned to the Gambia following his graduation. In 2006 he established Majum Real Estate and has since been chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Political career

In 2016, Barrow was chosen by a coalition of seven opposition parties as their endorsed candidate for the 2016 Gambian presidential election. Prior to becoming a candidate for the presidency, Barrow had not previously held any political office. He had been the treasurer of the UDP. He went on to defeat the long-term incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, in an upset. He will be sworn in about sixty days from his election, an event that will mark the country’s first change of presidency in 22 years and its first change of presidency by democratic means since independence from Britain in 1965. Jammeh initially indicated that a smooth handover of power would take place, but days later said that he rejected the election result.

Barrow has called for Yahya Jammeh to give up power peacefully. The defeated president refused to accept the elections results, as he appealed his loss to the Supreme Court. Jammeh has also vowed to remain in power, until the court’s decision, expected to be in May.

Campaign promises:

He has promised to return The Gambia to its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. He also promised to reform security forces, suggesting that they should be “distanced from politics”.

Barrow has said that, if elected, he would set up a temporary transition government formed of members from the opposition coalition and would step down within three years.

Personal life:

Barrow has two wives and five children. He is a devout Muslim, who says faith guides his life and politics and often invokes Allah in his speeches. He supports the English football team Arsenal.

Habibu Barrow, his eight-year-old son, died after being bitten by a dog on January 15, 2017. Barrow could not attend his son’s funeral due to staying in Senegal for security reasons, following ECOWAS recommendation.

Ethnic identity and views on tribalism

He has been reported to be a member of the Fula ethnic group, which the United Democratic Party (UDP) has said is the second largest ethnic group in The Gambia (the largest being the Mandinka). He has also been reported to be Mandinka, based on his father’s ethnicity, but more identified with Fulas in social and cultural terms, having had a Mandinka father and a Fula mother. He grew up speaking the Fula language in a village and district that are primarily Fula, and both of his wives are Fula.

When asked about the topic and his views on what he envisions for The Gambia, he said he has mixed ethnic background and that he is not a tribalist:

It would be an inclusive country where tribalism will not have a place. I am the least tribalists person you will ever see. I have mixed ethnic blood in me. I am a Sarahule, Mandinka and Fula. Two of my sisters from the same mum and dad are married to Jolas. So, tribe is not important. What is important is that we are all Gambians and should unite and work for the progress of our country.

 

For a better society.

The African continent has acquired notoriety in the use of children as soldiers in the various wars and conflict zones which litter the continent.

The call by the National Assembly on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently address the nation on what the American  would call the state of the union address is very apt, statemanly  and  therefore , should be acceded to and used to let Nigerians know the mind of his  administration on the economy in particular and the general governance system in the country.

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