It sounds odd but a fact that a total of 286 foreign nationals, including four Americans, 14 Britons and 86 Lebanese, yesterday took the Oath of Allegiance adopting Nigerian citizenship.
The ceremony was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola told State House correspondents that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had, on February 9, 2022, approved a list of the 286 foreigners seeking Nigerian citizenship.
“You have pledged your allegiance to Nigeria. When you give your love and loyalty to Nigeria, she returns her love and loyalty to you,” the President told the news citizens.
President Buhari explained that out of the 286 foreign nationals presented with certificates of Nigerian citizenship, 208 got certificates for naturalisation, while 78 got certificates by registration.
He urged the new citizens to make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well-being of the different communities they reside.
To them, President Buhari said: “You are expected to abide by the ideals and institutions of the Nigerian national flag, anthem, pledge and respect for all constituted authorities.”
He had a word for all levels of authority across the country, saying: “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.”
In exercising the constitutional powers conferred on him by Chapter III Sections 25-31 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the President told the new citizens that Nigeria is a nation united by the principles of opportunity, equality, and liberty.
President Buhari recounted that the Federal Government, in 2020, adopted the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness.
He said Aregbesola inaugurated a High-Level Steering Committee to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria by 2024.
The minister said the foreigners had gone through a series of thorough checks by the nation’s security agencies before they were considered qualified and deserving of Nigerian citizenship.
The conferment ceremony was the first to take place since 2018.