The Federal Government has conferred Nigerian citizenship on 286 deserving adult foreign nationals from 49 countries, in a ceremony presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday in Abuja.
In his remarks at the conferment ceremony held at the Banquet Hall of the State House, President Muhammadu Buhari revealed that the approval is in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) in Chapter III Sections 26 and 27.
The President, while maintaining that the Nigerian Government is determined to move as many people as possible away from the label of statelessness into being citizens, added that a path to citizenship is a way out of statelessness.
“The Federal Government will give the Ministry of Interior and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development all the supports needed to eradicate statelessness. Therefore, through today’s ceremony we are letting the world know that Nigeria is open and inviting you to come and enjoy all the natural resources God has blessed Nigeria with.” Buhari said
His Excellency further enjoined new citizens to enjoy all rights and privileges within the confines of the law, conferred on them by their new status as Nigerians, while in the same vein fulfilling their obligations and responsibilities to Nigeria.
“I further urge you to make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well-being of the different communities you reside in and to be in one accord with our national ethics and code of conduct as new citizens. You are admonished to abide by the ideals and institution of the Nigerian National Flag, Anthem, Pledge and respect all constituted authorities.”
“I implore all those concerned with Immigration matters to offer our new citizens quick legal identification. Their Local Governments should assist with integration into a community indigenous to Nigeria and therefore enable them enjoy all the entitlements of a citizen” he added.
On his part, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, assured that the 286 foreigners went through diligent checks by agencies of government as stipulated by the Constitution and have fulfilled all statutory and administrative requirements.
Presenting all deserving foreign nationals to President Buhari for conferment of Nigeria citizenship, Aregbesola asserted that foreigners striving to become Nigerian citizens is an indication that the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is yielding good fruits.
In his words; “Without any doubt, ours is a great nation, richly endowed; and blessed with great people. Smart people continue to flock to our nation, to do business with us and have a sizeable slice of the Nigeria pie. Our nation has therefore always been attractive to foreign nationals who have been so pleased to share in our dreams and destiny and we shall continue to welcome every qualified applicant that will add value to our nation”.
While stating that the epoch-making event signifies unity and oneness of the human race, the Minister maintained that “irrespective of one’s race, ethnicity, religion and circumstances of birth, what we share in common is our humanity and we can always have the basis for deeper and more meaningful interaction and togetherness, if we work at it.”
Reminding the new citizens that the acquisition of the Nigerian citizenship is a great privilege since not everyone that applied emerged successful, Aregbesola stated that the Nigerian Government will continue to encourage foreigners who meet the conditions stipulated for becoming Nigerians, by laying a seamless path to citizenship for them.
According to the Minister, “One of the objectives of our administration, the mandate given to us by Mr President, is to lay a solid socio-economic and political foundation that will thrust Nigeria into one of the 20 great economies of the world. To achieve this lofty vision, the government is determined to encourage and attract foreign investors, high net-worth individuals, highly skilled individuals and people of talents, into the country.
At the ceremony, the Honourable Minister assured that the full powers and resources of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be deployed to aid Nigerian citizens to succeed in all of their legitimate endeavours.