NIGERIA’S new high commissioner to the UK Ambassador Sarafa Ishola has stepped up his plans to address the chronic problem of the late delivery of travel documents at the London mission by establishing a Servicom committee to remove bottlenecks.
Due to the coronavirus lockdown, a backlog of 18,000 passport applications built up at the London high commission, which became Ambassador Ishola’s first challenge upon assuming office. Apart from this, the mission has had numerous problems with the passport renewals and the provision of travel documents over the years, leading to demands for reform.
In 2019, these frustrations boiled over, leading to a frustrated Nigerian smashing several cars outside the mission. As a result, several community leaders put together a document titled Obtaining Travel Documents from the Nigerian High Commission in London United Kingdom, which recommended the creation of the Servicom committee.
During a recent visit to Ambassador Ishola, the chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) Ayo Akinfe, handed the high commissioner a copy of the document. It now appears that having read it, Ambassador Ishola has begun implementing its recommendations.
Last week, Canuk itself established a seven-man passport liaison committee chaired by its first vice chairperson Olajumoke Ariyo. Both committees are now expected to work together on resolving the thorny issue of passport issuance by looking at a host of possibilities including upgrading the website, providing more information, automating the process further, arranging mobile biometric data capturing, etc.
Servicom is an acronym for Service Compact with All Nigerians, an initiative of the Nigerian federal government to promote effective and efficient service delivery. This London Servicom committee to be chaired by Dr Cyprian Heen, the head of investment, trade and industry will include Rose Yakowa-Okoh, the head of chancery, Kabiru Nasidi, Jane Odiachi and Taiwo Osunnaiye who will serve as secretary.
Ambassador Ishola said: “We are here today responding to the yearning and calls from the Nigerian communities in the UK to enhance service delivery at the Nigeria high commission UK. We have been doing our utmost best in this direction but with the advent of Brexit, we need to further work to enhance our service delivery.
“It is within this context that the mission has put in place a Servicom committee that will address the issues relating to the high commission and the various Nigerian communities and organisations in the UK. The committee has been constituted within the context of ministry of foreign affairs extant regulations, with the following terms of reference:
“Production of code of conduct, for the entire staff of the mission in line with extant regulations, of the ministry of foreign affairs, the reorientation of the mission towards service delivery, in the context of Brexit, which will demand a lot of responsibilities from this mission. Sensitisation of all cadres of staff on human relations and present a monthly report in compliance with the code of conduct and progress report of Servicom.
“Advise on immediate short and medium term deliverables by the mission in line with working document of the committee. Liaise with the ministry of foreign affairs and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, to further ensure optimal performance in terms of service delivery at the mission.”
Dr Heen added: “It is an honour and privilege to be so appointed as chairman of the Servicom committee in the Nigeria high commission London. I am delighted to accept this appointment and want to assure the high commissioner that this appointment, which I consider as a repose of confidence in my person, will be taken headlong with all seriousness.
“My committee and I will not fail in our duties. I have no doubt in my mind that, the officers that have been charged with this duty alongside me given their pedigree, capacity and capability, will be able to deliver results and turn things around.”