Several foreigners have become Nigerians after gaining citizenship.
The PUNCH reports that the Nigerian government has conferred Nigerian citizenship rights on 286 persons from the United States of America, Britain, Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Italy and Palestine.
Out of the 286 foreign nationals presented with certificates of Nigerian Citizenship on Thursday, 208 received certificates for Naturalisation while 78 got certificates by Registration, PUNCH reports.
Presenting the foreign nationals with the citizenship certificates at the State House in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “You have pledged your allegiance to Nigeria. When you give your love and loyalty to Nigeria, she returns her love and loyalty to you.”
Buhari performed the exercise in line with the provisions of the Chapter III Sections 25-31 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended).
The President noted that the Ministry of Interior ensured that only deserving persons were recommended to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to be conferred with Nigerian citizenship.
He therefore reminded the new citizens that Nigeria was a nation united by the principles of opportunity, equality and liberty as enshrined in the Constitution.
The president further noted, "No matter where you come from, or what faith you practise, this country is now your country. Our history is now your history, and our traditions are now your traditions. Nigeria is your home and pride and joy.
“You are expected to abide by the Ideals and Institution of the Nigerian National Flag, 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 a Nigerian citizen.”
Delivering his address titled “The More, The Merrier,” the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the new citizenship beneficiaries from the US, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Oceania and Africa, “have seen the good in Nigeria.”
According to the minister, "Without any doubt, Nigeria is a great nation, richly endowed and blessed with great people. Smart people continue to flock to our country to do business with us.”
Aregbesola maintained that Nigeria would continue to welcome every qualified citizenship applicant.
During the ceremony, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, read the citations of select beneficiaries who received the certificates and symbols of citizenship.
The selected beneficiaries whose citations were read by Belgore include an American citizen, Mrs. Kathryn Barrera, a Spanish citizen, Professor Albert Rovira, an Italian citizen, Mr. Giuseppe Bellini, a Kenyan, Dr. Nasra Ali, a Ugandan, Prof. John Okwii, and a Chadian citizen, Prof. Oumar Adoun.
The American citizen, Barrera, who arrived in Nigeria in 1974 at age 24, spoke on behalf of the new citizens, and extolled President Buhari and staff of the Ministry of Interior for “making their dreams come true.”