President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred citizenship on 385 foreign nationals.
President Buhari who was represented at the event which took place at Gen Abdulraman Danbazzau Conference Hall, Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS), Headquarters, Abuja, by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the foreign nationals fulfilled all necessary conditions needed to become a Nigerian citizen.
The Nigerian leader noted that his administration has given citizenship to more foreigners than any administration so far, adding that the gesture was to encourage foreign investment and boost the nation’s economy.
Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on his own part called for the review of the Nigerian Constitution to allow more foreign nationals apply for citizenship, while also disclosing that those conferred with the citizenship met the stringent conditions attached to it.
He asked why foreigners will have to wait for 15 years before they can apply for Nigeria citizenship, in contrast to what is obtainable in other countries. Aregbesola further revealed that a total of 671 foreigners have been conferred with Nigeria citizenship within the past five years.
Aregbesola said; ”That we have a high number of foreigners willing to become Nigerians is an indication that the on-going efforts of the Federal Government to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is beginning to yield good fruits.
“I must state also that it is under our administration that the largest number of foreigners have been naturalised. “Between 2011 and 2013,a total of 266 foreigners became Nigerians. In 2017, 335 people took up Nigerian citizenship. But last year, 286 foreigners and today at this ceremony, 385, making a total of 671 have acquired Nigerian citizenship.
“I am still not pleased with this figure. In Europe and America, thousands of foreigners are inducted into citizenship every year. They do this to attract youths and people in their prime who would like to contribute to the development of their countries.
“The bane of the smooth pathway to Nigerian citizenship however is the constitutional requirement of continuous residency in Nigeria for 15 years.
” This is a huge disincentive, considering that in the United States and most European countries, it is five years. Some of these countries have made a habit of snatching young and resourceful brains – who after four years of schooling and working for just one year – through easy pathways, to obtain quality migration to their countries.
” I will therefore urge the relevant institutions of state to reconsider this in the next effort at amendment to the constitution. We ought to have easier pathways to citizenship for foreigners than currently obtains.”