The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides grounds for which a person can become a citizen of Nigeria. Under the 1999 Constitution, a person can become a citizen of Nigeria, by birth, registration, naturalisation, and through honourary conferment of citizenship.
Below are elaborate details on how to become a Nigerian citizen:
1. You can become a Nigerian citizen by birth
According to Section 25 of the Nigeria Constitution, you can become a Nigerian citizen by birth in the following ways;
- If you were born in Nigeria before Independence Day (October 1st 1960) and one of your parents or grandparents belongs to an indigenous community in Nigeria.
- You can also become a Nigerian citizen if you were born after October 1st, 1960 and your parent or any of your grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
- Lastly, you can become a Nigerian citizen if you were born outside Nigeria and one of your parents is a Nigerian citizen.
2. You can become a Nigerian citizen by registration
According to Section 26 of the Nigeria Constitution, you can become a Nigerian Citizen by registration if:
- You were born outside Nigeria by parents who are not Nigerian citizens but one of your grandparents is a Nigerian.
- A non-Nigerian woman who is married to a Nigerian man can become a Nigerian citizen by registration.
The implication of the above is that a non-Nigerian man who is married to a Nigerian woman cannot become a Nigerian Citizen by registration. This section of the Constitution has been subjected to gender-bias criticism and might be amended in future.
3. You can become a Nigerian citizen through naturalisation
Section 27 of the Constitution states that anyone who desires to become a Nigerian citizen by naturalization must apply to the President of Nigeria for a Certificate of Naturalization. Such application must show that:
- The Applicant is of good character.
- Applicant shows the desire to be domiciled in Nigeria.
- The applicant shows in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he intends to reside that he has assimilated to the way of life of the people in that part of the country and that he is acceptable to the local community there.
- Applicant is capable of contributing to the development of Nigeria.
- The applicant has taken an oath of allegiance under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
- Before the application, the applicant has lived continuously in Nigeria for 15 years, or has resided in Nigeria for a continuous period of 12 months and immediately before the 12 months had within 20 years lived in Nigeria for a combined period of not less than 15 years.
It will interest you to note that in the year 2009, over 236 individuals became Nigerian citizens by naturalization from 50 different countries, and the number is rising each year.
4. Honourary 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 days 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 Nigeria embassy in your country of residence or the one responsible for your country. You can find out the embassy responsible for your country through the Nigeria Immigration Service website.