The federal government has conferred Nigerian citizenship on 385 foreign nationals from different continents across the world.
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made this known at the 1st 2023 Conferment ceremony of Nigeria Citizenship by Naturalisation and Registration on Saturday in Abuja.
The minister said one of the objectives of the present administration was to lay a solid socio-economic and political foundation that would elevate Nigeria into one of the 20 great economies of the world.
He said to achieve this vision, the federal government was determined to encourage and attract foreigners, investors, resourceful individuals and people with rare talents and unbounded energy into the country.
“Today’s conferment ceremony will be granted to 385 foreigners who have gone through diligent checks by the relevant agencies of state as stipulated by the constitution and have fulfilled all statutory and administrative requirements.
“I need to state that the acquisition of the Nigerian citizenship is a great privilege and not everyone that applies becomes successful.
“However, that we have a high number of foreigners willing to become Nigerians is an indication that the ongoing efforts to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is beginning to yield good fruits.
“As we continue to welcome foreigners to do business here who, after interacting with us, are now desirous of becoming one of us.”
The minister said that it was under the present administration that the largest number of foreigners had 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, he said, was a huge disincentive, considering that in the U.S. and most European countries, it is five years.