George Omo-Iduhon, chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe, NIDOE, Italy Chapter, said more than 1.5 million registered Nigerians urgently needed the Nigerian passport.
Mr Omo-Iduhon stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Saturday while reflecting on the activities of NIDOE in Europe.
NAN reports that NIDOE is the European arm of a global Nigerian diaspora network, established in year 2000 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
NIDOE has its headquarters in London, where it serves 21 regional chapters.
Mr Omo-Iduhon said that out of about three million Nigerians registered in Italy, 1.5 million of them needed passports, which had prevented them from returning home or getting jobs.
“One of the problems we are facing as Nigerians living in Italy is acute shortage of Nigerian passport. Most times, we go to the embassy to address the problem.
“What we normally get as response is the shortage of booklets and backlogs. The government should help to address this problem because Italy serves as the gateway to other countries in Europe, especially for Nigerians.
“Most Nigerians prefer to have their political asylum in Italy. In Italy, we have more Nigerians than we have in other European countries; the registered Nigerians according to database are three million aside the undocumented ones.
“About 1.5 million Nigerians in Italy don’t have passports, even some of those that have been accepted by Italian government have not been issued passport which makes it difficult for them to work,” he said.
The chairman said that the supply of 500 booklets of passport to the Nigerian embassy in Italy was grossly inadequate to serve the number of the citizens that needed it.
“The number of booklets allocated to the embassy in Italy, which is 500 is insignificant to the number of applicants; even giving Italy 20,000 booklets in a month may not go round.
“Using the same sharing formula for all the countries in Europe cannot work in Italy where we have more Nigerian residents. We cannot be compared with Sweden with fewer number of Nigerians residents.
“We are appealing to the relevant government agencies and our amiable Minister for Internal Affairs, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, to help us address this issue.
“The Chairman of NIDCOM, Mrs Abike Dabiri, has tried for us as well,” he said.
Mr Omo-Iduhon said that the body had a change of leadership in July 2021, after an election, adding that the new administration was poised to improve the welfare of Nigerians.
“We just had our elections in July this year, the first thing we have set out as a team is to improve the welfare of Nigerians in Italy. This is of paramount interest to us.
“We are also liaising with the Nigerian embassy in Italy to do the right thing at the right time and importantly, our mandate in bringing investors from Italy to Nigeria.
“We need to grow the economy of Nigeria, a mission at which we are established by former President Obasanjo to assist in the development drive,” he added.
NIDOE is recognised as official platform through which individual Nigerian in diaspora, their community, organisation and corporate bodies can channel their development efforts to Nigeria.
The organisation partners with Nigerian community, professional organisation as well as public and private businesses in focused areas such as Foreign Direct Investment, professional networking, stakeholders advocacy, medical missions, educational support and skill transfer to Nigeria.