…Directs Immigration Service to provide new citizens with legal identity
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President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred citizenship status on 286 foreign Nationals.
The foreign Nationals including 86 Lebanese, 14 Britons, and four Americans were among the 286 foreign nationals conferred with the status of Nigerian citizenship by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Of these deserving persons who signed to be Nigerians, 208 were conferred citizenship status by naturalisation, while the remaining 78 gained their citizenship by registration.
The conferment took place after they officially recited the oath of allegiance and the Nigerian national pledge during the ceremony held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In his address, President Buhari revealed that the conferment followed a recommendation from the Ministry of Interior to the Federal Executive Council.
“My fellow Nigerians, it is with great joy and pride that I invite you to join me today to welcome citizens from other corners of the world over into the Nigerian family. No matter where you come from, or what faith you practice, this country is now your country. Our history is now your history and our traditions are now your tradition. Nigeria is your home and your pride and joy.
“You have pledged your allegiance to Nigeria. When you give your love and loyalty to Nigeria, she returns her love and loyalty to you. Together we are a nation united by principles of opportunity, equality, and liberty that are enshrined in our Constitution.
“The Advisory Committee on Nigeria citizenship made its recommendation to the Federal Executive Council, which graciously granted approval to 286 awardees. This approval is in line with the provision of the 1999 constitution as amended of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, chapter three, section 26 and 27.
“It is significant to note that the federal government in 2020 adopted the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness. Accordingly, the Honourable Minister of Interior inaugurated the high level steering committee to eradicate statelessness in Nigeria by 2024. This ceremony, therefore, today is a further demonstration of the federal government’s commitment and the determination to remove or remove as many people as possible from statelessness.”
President Buhari however, reiterated his commitment to the strategic role Nigeria plays in the comity of nations, in its unwavering quest for greater human integration, towards ensuring peace and prosperity.
The President further directed the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to immediately issue the new Nigerians with certificates as appropriate to enable them begin to enjoy the status conferred on them wherever they reside in the country.
He urged them to make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well being of the different communities they reside in.
“You are expected to abide by the ideas and institution of the Nigerian National Anthem, pledge and respect for all constituted authorities. All those concerned with immigration matters are to offer our new citizens quick legal identification.
“Also, their local governments should assist with their integration in the local community to enable them enjoy all the entitlements of Nigerian citizen.”
Earlier, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola revealed that the foreigners had gone through a series of thorough checks by the nation’s security agencies before being considered qualified and deserving Nigerian citizenship.
He said the Federal government was determined to encourage high networth individuals as well as give recognition to other qualified foreigners into country in the bid to make Nigeria a destination of choice for investment opportunities.
The Minister also urged them to guide their privileged status jealously as citizenship of Nigeria also confers on them corresponding responsibilities to contribute their quota to facilitate the development of Nigeria generally.
“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.
“We shall therefore continue to encourage foreigners who meet the conditions stipulated for becoming Nigerians, by laying a seamless path to citizenship before them. That we have so many people striving to become Nigerians 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. It is also an elixir of hope to all Nigerians that a great, secure, prosperous and peaceful horizon is ahead of us. Let us all therefore play our role in the scheme of things to accelerate the arrival of that beautiful era we all long for.
“I must remind our new citizens that the acquisition of the Nigerian citizenship is a great privilege since not everyone that applied became successful. You must therefore guard jealously your new status by being Nigerian in deed and truth – obeying the laws of the land, work hard and love your neighbour. Nigerians work hard and live life to the fullest, irrespective of their earthly estate. It will be my pleasure to see you dissolve into this wonderful blend within the shortest possible time.”
The conferment ceremony was the first to take place since 2018.
The first person to be conferred with Nigerian Citizenship by the Ministry of Interior was Miss Theresia Chidiac of 16A, Manchester Road, Kano, Nigeria with effect from 18th July, 1964 based on Section 7(1) of the 1963 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.