BECOMING A NIGERIAN CITIZEN

Friday, August 7, 2009

Like any other country, Nigeria takes the time to grant citizenship to foreigners that meet certain requirements. A main way for foreigners to obtain Nigerian citizenship is via 'naturalization', which requires the following - an individual must be at least 17 years that resided in Nigeria for at least 15 years, is of good character, plans to remain in Nigeria, is familiar with Nigerian language and customs, has a viable means of support, and has renounced previous citizenship. Another way is through 'registration' and this mostly applies to women (not men) married to a Nigerian citizenship. Of course, individuals with at least one Nigerian citizen for a parent can also become Nigerian citizens themselves.


Recently 236 individuals became Nigerian citizens and they came from 50 different countries:
  1. Lebanon - 71 individuals
  2. United States of America - 14 individuals
  3. Syria - 12 individuals
  4. Great Britain - 12 individuals
  5. Egypt - 9 individuals
  6. India - 8 individuals
  7. Italy - 8 individuals
  8. Russia - 7 individuals
  9. Sierra Leone - 5 individuals
  10. Germany - 5 individuals
  11. Jamaica - 4 individuals
  12. Pakistan - 4 individuals
  13. China - 4 individuals
  14. Ghana - 3 individuals
  15. Ukraine - 3 individuals
  16. Romania - 3 individuals
  17. Israel - 3 individuals
  18. Belarus - 3 individuals
  19. Canada - 3 individuals
  20. Poland - 3 individuals
  21. Japan - 2 individuals
  22. Senegal - 2 individuals
  23. Cameroon - 2 individuals
  24. Hungary - 2 individuals
  25. Niger - 2 individuals
  26. Greece - 2 individuals
  27. Moldova - 2 individuals
  28. Philipines - 2 individuals
  29. Bulgaria - 1 individual
  30. Iran - 1 individual
  31. Mexico - 1 individual
  32. Kenya - 1 individual
  33. Switzerland - 1 individual
  34. Sweden - 1 individual
  35. Guatemala - 1 individual
  36. Taiwan - 1 individual
  37. Congo - 1 individual
  38. Australia - 1 individual
  39. Togo - 1 individual
  40. France - 1 individual
  41. Gabon - 1 individual
  42. Brazil - 1 individual
  43. Netherlands - 1 individual
  44. Czech - 1 individual
  45. Tanzania - 1 individual
  46. South Africa - 1 individual
  47. Guinea - 1 individual
  48. Trinidad and Tobago - 1 individual
  49. Croatia - 1 individual
  50. Côte d’Ivoire - 1 individual
What is certain is that this list represents an diverse collection of new Nigerians. The opinion of some Nigerians on naturalization of foreigners is equally diverse with some questioning why anyone would want to become a Nigerian, while others feel that the requirements for naturalization are not as strict as those Nigerians endure in foreign lands. A look at the popular Nigerian online forum Nairaland illustrated an interesting debate (began in 2008 but still ongoing as of April 2009) amongst users on naturalization that is worth a reading, at least for some of the colorful expressions used by some commentators.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see that some are willing to sacrifice their original citizenship to become Nigerians despite Nigeria's international reputation, which is not at its best, and the fact that those who carry that green passport can sometimes endure significant embarrassment at foreign airports (for example, please read The Pride & Pain of Nigerian Citizenship and My Nigerian Passport Strikes Again!). Furthermore, considering the hoops Bill Gates had to go through to get a Nigerian visa in 2007, it is nice to know that Nigeria does not mind taking in a few more people.

Thanks to Myabubakar for this info.

COMMENTS ON THIS POST HAVE BEEN CLOSED. THANK YOU.

From the Archives:
- No Nigerian Visa For Bill Gates
- The Pride & Pain of Nigerian Citizenship
- My Nigerian Passport Strikes Again!
- Speak Igbo? The U.S. Army Wants You

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31 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

HEAL NIGERIA said...

It is good to know that there are individuals who are interested in taking up Nigerian citizenship. But you can be sure that most of these people are business men/women who need the passport to enjoy privileges (e.g tax etc)afforded to Nigerian-owned business.
www.healnigeria.blogspot.com

Loomnie said...

Thanks for the post. I don't think they sacrifice their original citizenship though; they only acquire another one in addition.

akaBagucci said...

At last some not so depressing news!

Some people out there do cherish the Nigerian experience for whatever reasons - used to work with a Texan who was actively involved in philanthropy plus travelled very widely all over the country until the whole kidnap thing became rampant.

I would suspect there's a lot more to it though as the others have pointed out.

webround said...

they are not sacrificing their original citizenship to become Nigerians, they are getting the Nigerian citizenship in addition to the existing ones they have becos a Nigerian passport gives you free access to west african countries/ecowas countries. when they go abroad, they will present their other passports. For example the Americans and British guys will present their 'foreign' passports when they need to travel to Europe.

JesusFreak said...

Nice stuff. Nigeria is a blessed country robed in darkness but the glory of Nigeria will soon shine forth.

@Heal Nigera...lol, enjoy privileges. You right anyway but it is more than that.

@akaBagucci
There are lotta good news about Nigeria o but it's just that the bad are more than the good

Awa Music Map said...

Lol I wont lie I did ask myself why did they do that? Especially the Americans on the list but after my initial reaction it looks promising for us that people still want to be a part of our Nation :D

Sugabelly said...

@SolomonSydelle: So I know I'm totally going to get shit for this comment but whatever:

I think calling them "New Nigerians" is a bit inaccurate. Nigerian Citizens is more proper in my view. Here's why.

Sure they've become Nigerian citizens, but can they hold public office? Do they belong to a tribe? No matter what they can never gain membership to any of the tribes (tribal membership is by birth and bloodline only).

Can they become Governor, Senator, Vice President or President? No.

I think Nigerian Citizenship confers certain rights and privileges as a citizen but it doesn't confer Nigerianness or Nigerian Identity.

At the end of the day, the Apocalypse will probably come before any of the Lebanese Nigerian Citizens becomes President (or anyone else for that matter).

Now I'm not pointing this out to be mean, I'm just saying this because I think it is extremely important that people recognize that while we are democracy and while we are a country that confers citizenship just like other countries, we are also a country that is based entirely on ethnic makeup and blood composition.

A lot of people like to wave this away as inconsequential but I think it's important to embrace the fact that we are a nation of ethnic groups and those ethnic groups are extremely important and make up our identity.

Sure, I don't mind if the Lebanese dude that has been here for 17 years wants a green passport to make his life easier, but if that same Lebanese man runs for even Local Government Chairman, I will be the first person protesting against him. And that goes for every other non-Nigerian Nigerian Citizen.

I'm sorry, but everything that Nigeria is, in every level of its government and in every stage of its decision making process, our ethnicity is a factor that plays a huge role and must not be ignored, and our ethnicity is what makes us Nigerian not the passport that we have.

There are people in Nigeria that don't have Nigerian passports and there are people that were born outside Nigeria to Nigerian parents and those people don't even have Nigerian passports either, but they are still unquestionably and undeniably and fundamentally Nigerian in every bone in their bodies. They may not claim it, but it is who they are and that cannot be escaped.

So, at the end of this long comment, let me say that while I am very happy for this 200 plus group that has embraced Nigerian citizenship, I still do not view them as Nigerians, but merely Nigerian Citizens.

Will I accord them the same respect I do Nigerians? Of course, provided they don't do anything to lose that respect.

Will I treat them the same way I do Nigerians? Of course.

Will I support their running for public office or any kind of governmental or royal position? BIG NO. I feel that there are some things that are sacred within my nation and not open to foreigners no matter how long they have been here. I would never support a foreigner being crowned Obi of Onitsha or Eze Nri of Nri. I would never support a foreigner being given a chieftaincy title unless that person has at least one Nigerian parent from that tribe. I would never support a foreigner in my government at any level, be it Local Government or Presidency.

A lot of people might not think it's fair. A lot of people might think I'm being bigoted or racist, but this has nothing to do with hate of anybody.

Sugabelly said...

I just believe that some things are sacred and some things are meant only for the group of people to which they pertain.

Just as Nnamdi would never get (and should never seek) the position of Ooni of Ife, a foreign national in Nigeria, irrespective of Nigerian citizenship status would never get (and should never seek) any kind of political position in Nigeria.

And you know what? I think it's the right way. We've had a history of foreigners meddling in our affairs to Nigerian detriment and I just want foreign nationals seeking Nigerian citizenship to respect that.

Also, many of these foreign nationals make no effort whatsoever to assimilate into Nigerian culture (which is often a requirement for their countries). I think they should be forced to assimilate if they want Nigerian citizenship. They should prove proficiency in at least one Nigerian language besides English.

And as full citizens, they should also be prosecuted for their crimes. I find the Nigerian police is inordinately softhearted when it comes to policing the foreign-appearing "citizens" of our beloved country.

So sorry to be the sand in your collective garri but I kinda had to say it.

TheJunkie said...

I love your blog!

check out mine
www.nigerianeconomicsjunkie.blogspot.com

Heal said...

I quite like your blog. I will appreciate if you guys can check out my blog at
www.healnigeria.blogspot.com
It's called 'healnigeria'. I'm a transport planner and blog about transport issues in Nigeria as well as social/political issues. I also have a group on facebook with the same name. Feel free to follow.
I'm also interested in having contributors/writers
Cheers
Seyi

Anonymous said...

@sugarbelly ... why are you so negative? every comment u made so far oozes with negativism. and u r mean and arrogant and devoid of any sense of history. but let me stop here and take it to ur blog. so lets meet there and continue the discussion eh?

Sassy Trends said...

Why I'm I just coming across this site?
Hmnn... see what I'm missing, I need to go sit back and do some reading.....
x

HEAL NIGERIA said...

I quite like your blog. I will appreciate if you guys can check out my blog at
http://www.healnigeria.blogspot.com
It's called 'healnigeria'. I'm a transport planner and blog about transport issues in Nigeria as well as social/political issues. I also have a group on facebook with the same name. Feel free to follow.
I'm also interested in having contributors/writers
Cheers
Seyi

Sugabelly said...

@Anonymous: Why are you so 'anonymous'?

nneoma said...

wow, there is a lot of angst against foreign Nigerian citizens. Will check the nairaland forum out sometime. Last time I checked my siblings and I did not have to reject our American citizenship in order to get Nigerian citizenship. We received our dual citizenship status shortly after Obasanjo came to power in the late 90s. Maybe things have changed since then?
Anyway, as much as I agree that we must be cautious about how we deal with foreigners, especially in light of our past, I don't think an outright rejection of them from our national and local bodies is absolutely necessary.

Awa Music Map said...

I kind of agree with Sugabelly though. Isn't that how every other Western country does it to? I'm even Nigerian myself but have never lived there. I have ideas on how Nigeria should be run but I wouldn't vote for me... I think apart from it being sacred there are some things you just can't learn simply by moving there or some documentation...

I don't think Sugabelly is being negative at all. Not that she needs my defense...

9ja_Kuti said...

sugarbelly raised some issues that sure are the reality of nigeria.

culturesoup said...

Hmm, once i saw the topic i knew it would lead to a heated debate.

I'm of the opinion that a lot of Nigerian citizenship and visa requirements are unnecessarily stringent. Creating more hoops for people to jump through does not resolve the difficulty Nigerians face when that green passport makes an appearance. A better national reputation would reduce a lot of our problems but i guess it's easier for the head honchos to make everyone else sweat than to do the things that would fix our reputation.

People could always question the motivations of those taking up Nigerian citizenship but as with anything you'll have a mix. There are those who are just doing it for business convenience (like lots of people, not just Nigerians, who get married so they can stay abroad) and there are those who have formed strong attachments to the country.

I don't agree that new Nigerians can only be citizens. I have met 'foreigners' who are as Nigerian as anyone i know. I know of kids born and raised in Nigeria who are to all intents and purposes Nigerian. The only thing 'foreign' about them is their passport.

I could get into a long discussion about tribalism but i'll save it for now. I'll just say that i think tying public office to ethnicity is not the best idea. i'm off to check out that Nairaland thread.

Anonymous said...

What pure unadulterated BS. Try making such a statement in Britain and see how people will start calling for your head on a plate! Nigerian "citizens" and "Nigerians?" KMT!!! How is it possible now to have someone of Nigerian Origin as Mayor in Ireland? And although it hurts to watch - so many full-blooded Nigerians perform in athletics for Britain - because they claimed and ACCEPTED British citizenship. Therefore, no matter what colour, race or creed you are, as long as you accept our culture, respect our laws, I will accept you if you claim Nigerian citizenship as NIGERIAN! Why shouldn't the so-called "New" Nigerians run for public office? WHY THE HELL NOT?

Anonymous said...

Wow, just read Sugabelly's first comment again.
Seriously, you need to check yourself. I am not even kidding... ever heard of the BNP in Britain? You sound exactly like them---- talking about birth and bloodline? The exact same mentality as those Nazi bastards - Abeg carry go jor! We don't need hate-mongering people like you in Nigeria - you're like a bad rash, every blog go on - you are TROLLING about colour and race.

You claim that you will "respect" "Nigerian citizens" if they don't do anything to lose that "respect". You haven't started checking on our beloved "Nigerian" looters and polluters of our country, but you want to start with "New" Nigerians. As I do not care for traditional titles due to the often disgusting rites of passage - I really don't care who holds such God-forsaken roles. Na the individuals business oh! But yes you are bigoted. Yes you are RACIST. I don't think you are, I know you are. And "I have white friends..." as an excuse is not going to cut it.

Anonymous said...

@sugabelle .. u asked why am anony? well why r u sugabelle? why not sugarbabe? ie smone who dives at sugardaddies? why not also ma baker or marie antoniete for that matter? tell me why u r not all those and i will tell u why am not anonymous.

Anonymous said...

@suagbelle ..u asked why am so anonymous? well why r u not urself? why r u sugabelle? why not sugarbabe? ie smone who dives at sugardaddies? why not ma baker or marie antoniette for that matter? why? u tell me ur reason and i will tell u why am so anonymous.

FIGE said...

@anonymous and all anti-sugabelly
She has not done anything bad to air her views, but what she has done wrong is that she probablly has expressed her feellings to the extreme.
I think we should all look at like these...if you had just nationalized in the US.. would you have he guts to run for an office and if you did, do think you would get a ticket inthe democratic or republican party, rather say contest as an individual....
As much as we are being liberal, we should understand that a guy that has nationalised here in nigeria, has probably done so in a bid to get something. I would not vote a white guy to be the chairman of my local govt... how does he want to talk to those who dont speak english...abeg you people..should stoping ,making it look like sugabelly has said anything new...

Someone talked of the NAZI's, do you have a full info on the nazi and you know how well they opereated...read well about them and learn...

I dont care who nationalizes.. that his biz...i know people who have nationalized in the US,UK. and mant more..and still say im being treated like an outcast...

PLs..leave sugabelly alone.....

Anonymous said...

Yes, Sugabelly hasn't done anything bad by "airing" her views - and people will counter her views by airing theirs so I don't get why we should leave Sugabelly alone...am I/we holding her? If you naturalised in Britain or America and lack the confidence to run for public office - that is your business. At least you can run for office if you wish to - contrary to what Sugabelly is suggesting. Anyone is free to disagree with her - and I do - strongly. Meanwhile have you asked those Nigerians that are running after their "stay" and British/American citizenship what they are trying to get also? Free medical, free school, benefits etc etc hmmn seems like a pretty good deal to me. So don't start with "Oyinbos" getting Nigerian citizenship to get something. We all pull the same crap in other countries.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ everyone: was enjoying a leisurely day away from here only to get a message about how 'hot' the temperature has gotten.

Please, let us all try to respect everyone's opinions even when we don't necessarily like or agree with them.

With regard to this discussion the only thing I can add is that I have no problem with foreigners taking up Nigerian citizenship. And, yes, they must renounce prior citizenship once they collect their naija kpali. After that, they are free to re-apply for the passports of their national origin so as to be of dual citizenship status.

As to foreigners running for office in Nigeria - I don't care about any person's tribe, skin color, religion, sexual orientation or anything else, personally. I care about their ideas and their ability to buckle down and work hard for constituents. I would rather have a Nigerian of Lebanese origin (I have met many whose families have lived longer in Lagos than those of many Lagosians) run for public office, than some of the brown-baggers we currently have in office. Nigerians come in all shapes and sizes, and we should begin to accept that that also means place of national origin. My maternal grandmother was originally from Cameroun and many of my family are Nigerian and Camerounian in origin. They are Nigerian citizens, endure life as Nigerian citizens and deserve respect.

Anyway, like I said, I was trying to take today off, so let me stop. I appreciate the fact that we can all have a discussion about who is or is not a Nigerian and hope that we can all keep the rhetoric calm and respectful. Thank you all for taking the time to join the discussion. Let's not keep creating unnecessary walls between ourselves. It is these divisions that have historically undermined our ability to get things done in the country.

"Can't we all just get along?"

Milan said...

thanks 4 de comment! Im really addicted 2 koko mansion, who do u think is de winner?
I liked isi before but im supporting rita now

Sugabelly said...

@Anonymous:

I didn't force that man to run for Mayor so don't wave it in my face. I don't think a Nigerian should be the Mayor of Ireland. I honestly don't. I think an Irishman should be the Mayor of Ireland.

And are you really comparing me to a Nazi?

Do you even know what a Nazi is? The Nazis KILLED people. The Nazis HATED certain groups of people.

I neither hate nor want to harm foreign nationals in Nigeria, so comparing me to a Nazi is rather dumb.

I feel that only Nigerians should hold public office in Nigeria. That's my feeling, and that's my belief. I never said foreigners shouldn't come to Nigeria, or that they shouldn't become Nigerian citizens if that is what they want, but I feel and make a distinction between Nigerians and Nigerian Citizens because I identify Nigerianness by blood and by tribe.

I'm sorry if you don't like it, but that's what I believe.

Sugabelly said...

Also, I don't think it's wrong for the British to want to be top dog in their country. It is after all THEIR country. My only problem with the BNP is that they actually stir up hate against immigrants and they try sometimes to blame immigrants for every possible problem in Britain.

I don't hate the foreigners in Nigeria. I don't think they are the source of Nigeria's problems, neither do I think they should be driven out of the country (like the BNP) or prevented from carrying out their business (if they have the appropriate visas and stuff). I am very well aware that Nigeria's problems are mostly caused by our very-Nigerian leaders and other individuals and I do not have even one shred of respect for them.

Do I think those Nigerians should be holding political office either? No.

Do I think those Nigerians are doing a good job in Nigeria's government just because they are Nigerian? No.

Will I ever support an artist, actor, product, service, etc just because it's Nigerian? No. I will support good quality goods and services that are Nigerian with all my heart, but while I would prefer Nigerian dominance in all Nigerian industries and sectors, I will not choose a sub-standard Nigerian product over a high quality foreign one. And the same goes for musicians and their music videos, actors and their films, etc.

At the same time. Our ethnic groups are an inextricable part of who we are. Our ethnic groups tie us to our country. Sure, they definitely do not make up the whole of who we are, but they are an extremely important part as far as establishing identity goes. We shouldn't make tribes, language, etc a point for discrimination but at the same time we have to acknowledge their importance and allow them to play their role which is to differentiate.

A lot of people think acknowledging differences is always a bad thing, but I disagree. Differences have their uses too, and in the context of an entity like a country, there has to be a way to secure the best of what that country has to offer for its members.

Here, accident of birth is the difference between a half scholarship and a full one.

Is it the applicant's fault they weren't born American? No.

Is the applicant more than qualified and deserving of the full scholarship? You bet.

Is the applicant going to get a full scholarship then? No. Because they were not born in America and that is a difference that excludes them from the benefits of a full scholarship.

It's annoying for the applicant, but you know what? I ain't mad at them.

Technically, that's not fair, but when you examine these things you will find that they are necessary. It is necessary for families to reserve the best for their members. It is necessary for countries to reserve the best for their members.

We are from a country (Nigeria) that often reserves the best for foreigners and treats its own original nationals like shit.

In Nigeria, some Lebanese families have police escorts.

In Nigeria, primary and secondary school teachers are extremely hesitant to punish Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, White, etc students, yet they flog their Nigerian students from the same class mercilessly.

Yet these are the children of Nigerian Citizens that some of you want to claim are 'completely Nigerian' and are citizens themselves.

Sugabelly said...

If they are Nigerians as you say they are and they should have the right to enjoy all the benefits and all the public offices of our country, then why do they constantly (and with impunity) sidestep the suffering that we all collectively share in as Nigerians?

Why can't their children be flogged until huge welts form on their skins at school but other Nigerian children can be?

Why don't the police arrest them without cause like they do everyone else?

Why do they get special treatment?

Why do service providers fall slavishly at their feet and do their every bidding when other Nigerians have to clamour and holler for good service?

Why do they form communities that exclude Nigerians (in our own country), and try to influence schools to admit ONLY their children or ONLY the children of expatriates?

They don't receive the same treatment and at the end of the day, they're not Nigerians. Everyone has their own country. Sure, you're welcome to come hang out in Nigeria and stuff but India is still the home of all Indians, and Nigeria is the home of all Nigerians, wherever they may be. It is in your home that you seek honour. You do not go to another man's home and seek to be the head of the household.

It doesn't work that way and it shouldn't. I would never want a Nigerian to be the Queen or Prime Minister of England neither should a Briton or an Indian wish to be our President

Anonymous said...

Maybe you are the dumb one oh! As you no fit read! Yes I know what a Nazi is. Thankfully your views are not universally supported - may it continue to be so. Saying you have the mentality of the Nazis is different from accusing you of wanting to kill people. Is that not how they started off? It wasn't hate - RIGHT. It was cleansing the bloodlines/separation by ethnicity - sounds a bit familiar, no? I stand by what I said, you are full of something that definitely isn't a warm fuzzy feeling. This is the same bullshit pandering that is going on in the British press, and I come to a Nigerian blog, and see the same BS? Forgive me if I am fuming. I have no idea of this your "special treatment" of foreigners in Nigeria, as my experience of this "special treatment" is fairly limited. I ask my friends about this "special treatment" and I am met with blank stares. The only white girl in my school was flogged with the rest of us.

Who do you blame for the so-called "special treatment?" The Nigerians or the "foreigners"? Like I said, start with your beloved Nigerian people and ask them why.

The BNP are trying to drive people out of the country based on their ethnicity and the colour of their skin- never mind people that are the fourth generation immigrants to Britain. So in your mind now, these people are not British? And you only have a "single" problem with those utterly vile people?

Where you are born should not dictate what happens to you/who you will be. IT SHOULD NOT. I gave you an example of an Irish mayor with Nigerian Origin to show you an example of what I believe the Nigerian citizenship process should allow for. Of course, it flew over your head. What makes an individual British? American? Nigerian? Chinese? Your ethnicity? Your genetic make-up? Is it the colour of your skin - or where you were born? Your "blood?"(Still puzzled by the "blood" reference Sugabelly - I really am.) Like waffarian eloquently put it in a discussion about this same issue that *surprise surprise* you were part of - we are citizens of the world. We should be able to go wherever we want to and integrate wherever we want to and become citizens wherever we want to. I tend to disagree with myopic views. With that, I'm done with this debate unless I come back and see some epic foolishness.

Anonymous said...

@sugarbelle ..u have said enough o. and u had it coming anyway. am the original anony who fired the first salvo at u but really my comments were not on this citizenship thing. rather on what u said ealier on the issue of religion. let me hastily add u r entitled to ur views on anything. so am i. so u fire at mine i fire at urs. fair enough eh. i left my comments on ur second blog as the first is blocked for anony comments.