Muhammad Babandede: A light at the Nigeria Immigration Service


By Remi Adebayo

Humane, passionate and humble!

It occurred to me that I needed to renew my expired international passport, and straightaway, I hit the road leading to the Passport Office of the Nigeria Immigration Service located along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, here in Abuja for that purpose.

I had been assigned a ticket where the number on when I would be attended to was printed, waiting only to be beckoned upon to proceed to the data capturing hall where my details would be taken to update information for the new document desired.

In order not to entertain much boredom at such places, I prepared for a for a longer day, armed with a copy of Richard Kiyosaki’s book – 8 Lessons in Military Leadership for Entrepreneurs. I was glued to the pages when I suddenly heard alert charge, similar to what you hear at military or police formations when a ranked officer suddenly burst in.

As I lifted up my head, hurriedly dismounting my reading glasses, I looked and saw an average height, dark-complexioned but athletic-built and soft-spoken man. My first gaze hit his name tag – wow! The Number one Border Keeper himself! Mohammed Babandede is here!

Why is he here? I thought, but before my mind started probing, aided by two plain-clothed security men, possibly from the DSS, he pointed at a standing air conditioner unit that was switched off, obviously for not functioning, he charged, “Why is this not working; have you made a report? This place is hot!” The officers at the counter responded by affirming that report had been made and that efforts were being made to restore the piece.

We were about 50 seated in the hall. After satisfying his curiosity; the CG briskly walked towards exiting the facility when he suddenly noted an elderly woman on her seat but using a walk aid; a pointer that she might be managing either stroke, paralysis or arthritis.

“How long have you been here?,” the CG asked. Seeing that she deserved urgent attention in her situation and age, he urgently demanded for her case file and instructed that she be attended to in time.

Almost about 45 minutes after leaving the place, I had to inquire from few officers about the nature of the man; Muhammad Babandede as the CG of NIS.

The responses I got from them was inspiring. In fact, one told me that it was in the habit of the Babandede to visit immigration formations in states of the federation to ensure smooth operations in such states; and that most of the new physical development projects at the headquarters were initiated by him.

This is necessary encouragement to the CG to assure him that the public take note of little efforts like he’s and testimony that we do not only see the bad in government and its officials, as deserving and good leaders would always be spotted and commended when necessary.

Meanwhile, as one of the officers told me, scarcity of passport booklets may diminish Babandede’s achievement if it continued unabated. I asked why it takes this long to process and access our passport; the man speaking anonymously said, Nigeria prints its passport from Malaysia with a lot of logistics just to ensure enough security.

He said we have one of the best secure passport in the world. But while we agree to this, I still wonder why the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company is still in the limbo.

My informant said if the NSPMC produces our passport with its current state of poor facility, chances are that the Nigerian passport would find its way into wrong hands as substandard and fake document would flood the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari must look into this; but then, I commend the Comptroller-General for the good oversight.