First of all, we know Nigerian citizenship is probably not one of the most desirable in the world. Nevertheless, a lot of us might wonder if we are really Nigerian citizens if we have parents who are not Nigerians or whether our children will be citizens if we married foreigners and give birth outside Nigeria.
According to the Nigerian Constitution (yes! the almighty constitution) there are ONLY three ways to become a Nigerian citizen.
- By Birth
- By Registration
- By Naturalization
1. BY BIRTH
Being born in Nigeria does not automatically confer Nigerian citizenship on anyone. One can only be a citizen of Nigeria by birth under any of these three circumstances –
- If you were born in Nigeria before October 1, 1960 and at least one of your parents belonged or belongs to a community indigenous to Nigeria.
However in this case at least one of your parents or grandparents must have been born in Nigeria.
A- In 1934, Mr Gran and his wife (who are both foreigners) migrated to Nigeria, settled in Badagry and became members of that community. If Bobo P their first son was born in 1938 in Badagry, he can not be a citizen of Nigeria by birth.
B- However if Mr Jay came to Nigeria a single man and fell in love with Sisi B who was born in Nigeria (it is immaterial where her parents are originally from or whether she is a citizen of Nigeria), then all the children he has with Sisi B before October 1, 1960 will be citizens of Nigeria by birth under this section.
C- Also if Mr Jay and Sis B are both Americans but Mr Jay’s mum (or dad) was born in Nigeria and he and Sis B decide to move back to Nigeria in 1934 and settle in Badagry, again all the children they have in Nigeria before October 1, 1960 will be Nigerian citizens by birth.
- If you were born in Nigeria after October 1, 1960 and one of your parents or grand parents is a citizen of Nigeria.
This is pretty straight forward. Right?
- If you were born outside Nigeria and one of your parents is a citizen of Nigeria.
Note that in the third case it is immaterial if any of your grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
So yes, your child becomes a Nigerian automatically if you are a Nigerian even if your spouse is not a Nigerian and your child was born outside Nigeria.
Now if you were born outside Nigeria, none of your parents are Nigerian citizens but one of your grandparents is or if you are a foreign woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria, the Constitution permits you to register to become a citizen of Nigeria (This must be how Oshiomole’s wife got Nigerian citizenship). In this case you must –
- Be a person of good character.
- Show clear intention to be domiciled in Nigeria.
- Take the Nigerian Oath of Allegiance.
Curiously, this section and the rest of the Constitution is silent on the status of a male foreigner who marries a Nigerian citizen. Many have argued that this is clear case of sexism against males by the Nigerian constitution (Can you imagine?). However, others have mentioned that ease of registration by marriage for men may create huge security risks for the country.
Any foreigner who does not qualify for citizenship by Registration but fulfills a to c above including –
- The Governor of the state where he resides being satisfied that he is an acceptable member of his local community and has assimilated into the way of life of Nigerians.
- Being capable of making valuable contribution to the advancement of Nigeria
- Having lived in Nigeria continuously for 15 years or resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of 12 months and during the 20 years immediately preceding that 12 months lived in Nigeria for periods aggregating at least 15 years.
So you see…becoming a citizen of Nigeria is not as easy as you thought right? Yes, just like being a citizen.