Citizens of any country can gain certain rights and duties which are only allowed if they have the passport of the country. Therefore, every nation has its own way of determining its citizen and every country has its rules on how to obtain and lose your citizenship. Nigeria is not an exception. There are three types of citizenship in Nigeria:
1. Citizenship by Birth:
The provisions of section 25 of the Nigerian Constitution state that the following people are to be regarded as citizens of Nigeria by birth:
· People who were born in Nigeria before and after the date of independence.
· People whose parents, grandparents, or other relatives belong to indigenous Nigerian communities. And what is meant by the indigenous communities from Nigeria? Nigeria is a country with hundreds of tribes and if your parents or grandparents belong to one of these tribes, you can be or become a citizen of Nigeria by birth. It includes Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Efik, and many other tribes.
· If your parents or grandparents were or are citizens of Nigeria, you can be or become a citizen of Nigeria by birth; this applies even if you were born in another country.
2. Citizenship by Registration:
The provisions of section 26 of the Nigerian Constitution explain that a person who is not Nigerian by birth can become a citizen of Nigeria by registration. A person can apply to become a Nigerian citizen by registration if he or she satisfies these conditions:
· The person is of good character (This statement should be testified by two people, and one of them should be a religious minister).
· This person expresses and shows a clear intention of his inclination/desire/wish to be domiciled in Nigeria.
· This person has subscribed to the oath of allegiance to Nigeria, which is provided by the seventh schedule of the Nigerian Constitution.
· The provisions of section 26 of the Nigerian Constitution also state that the following categories of the citizen can apply for Nigerian immigration: A woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria. It also includes every person who has parents or grandparents of any indigenous Nigerian tribe.
3. Citizenship by Naturalization:
If a person cannot apply to become a Nigerian citizen by birth or registration, he can still apply to become a naturalized Nigerian citizen if he meets these requirements:
· This person is of full age.
· This person is of good character (just like in the type before).
· This person has shown a clear desire to be domiciled in the country.
· The governor of the state where the person applying for citizenship wants to reside has to confirm the desire of the community to assimilate this person.
· The person should be capable of contributing to the well-being of Nigeria and its citizens.
· The person has lived in Nigeria for fifteen years preceding the application date.
4. Honorary Citizenship:
Though not enshrined in the Constitution, Nigeria citizenship can be given to a person as a mark of honor by the President. In the year 2005, President Olusegun Obasanjo conferred honorary citizenship of Nigeria on Wesley Snipes, a famous Hollywood actor during his three-day visit to Nigeria.
How to Apply for Nigerian Citizenship
Although the 1999 Constitution states that application may be made to the president or governor in some cases, note that this does not literally mean that you have to give your application to the president or governor in person. If you are already in Nigeria and you want to apply for Nigerian citizenship, you can visit the Nigeria Immigration Office in the state where you reside. If you are abroad, you can visit or contact the Nigerian embassy in your country of residence or the one responsible for your country.