Nigeria might not be “giving” now, but that should change soon for several reasons. There’s the general election scheduled just eight days from now. We hope to finally see the back of Buhari and, more importantly, get a new administration that will bring in a breath of fresh air. 

There’s also the projection that by 2050, Nigeria will become the third most populous country. Among the top ten, we have the fastest-growing population rate. So brace yourself. Being a Nigerian citizen might be the hot cake in a few years.

To prepare you ahead of any last-minute rush — the same way we warned you ahead of the late rush to turn in your old naira notes — we’ve decided to explain the types of citizenship in Nigeria. There are three ways to acquire Nigerian citizenship.

Citizenship by birth

The document that defines citizenship in Nigeria is the 1999 Constitution, as amended. According to the Constitution, you can become a citizen of Nigeria by birth. But even this has special conditions. It’s simply not enough to be born here.

If that were the case, Hugo Weaving, who famously played the role of Agent Smith in The Matrix Trilogy, would be a Nigerian citizen because he was born at the University College Hospital in Ibadan.

Here’s what section 25 of the Constitution says. The following persons are citizens of Nigeria by birth namely;

(a) every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to a community indigenous to Nigeria:

Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Nigeria by this section if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was born in Nigeria;

(b) every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria; and

(c) every person born outside Nigeria or either of whose parents are a citizen of Nigeria.

(2) In this section, “the date of independence” means the 1st day of October 1960.

So sorry, Agent Smith, but are your parents or grandparents indigenous to Nigeria? If not, don’t quit yet. Let’s try another way.

Citizenship by registration

The other way of becoming a Nigerian citizen is citizenship by registration. This is covered in section 26 of the Nigerian Constitution. Here’s what it says:

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 28 of this Constitution, a person to whom the provisions of this section apply may be registered as a citizen of Nigeria if the President is satisfied that;

(a) he is a person of good character;

(b) he has shown a clear intention of his desire to live in Nigeria; and

(c) he has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution.

(2) the provisions of this section shall apply to;

(a) any woman who is or has been married to a citizen of Nigeria; or

(b) every person of full age and capacity born outside Nigeria or whose grandparents are a citizen of Nigeria. 

This section summarises that citizenship by registration is available to a woman married to a Nigerian citizen.

It’s also open to a person born outside Nigeria with any of their grandparents being Nigerian citizens. It looks like this option isn’t for you, Agent Smith. Let’s try the third one.

Citizenship by naturalisation

Citizenship by naturalisation is covered in section 27 of the Nigerian Constitution with the condition that you meet requirements in section 28. Here are the requirements to become a citizen by naturalisation.

  1. You must be of full age and capacity. (18 and above)
  2. You should have good character. (Agent Smith was a bad guy, but only in the movie) A minimum of two people must testify to this, and one must be a religious minister. 
  3. You must clearly desire to reside in Nigeria and meet the residential requirements needed to become a citizen.
  4. You should be capable of contributing to the well-being of Nigeria and its citizens­ – for example, by being a regular taxpayer.
  5. The governor of the Nigerian state you want to apply to for citizenship must confirm that the community you’ll reside in welcomes you with open arms.
  6. It would help if you took an Oath of Allegiance prescribed in Schedule 7 of the Constitution.
  7. You must have lived in Nigeria continuously for 15 years before the application date. If you’ve constantly lived for 12 months in Nigeria, then over the next 20 years lived in Nigeria intermittently for periods totalling not less than 15 years, you can also apply if you meet the other requirements.

Before we forget, if you want to acquire Nigerian citizenship by registration or by naturalisation, you must first renounce your citizenship of any other country you may have previously, unless the citizenship was acquired by birth. 

There you go. Now you know the Nigerian citizenship types and how to acquire them. Please don’t say we didn’t do anything for you, Agent Smith. You’re welcome.


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