CITIZENSHIP AND METHODS OF ACQUIRING CITIZENSHIP
Citizenship is a really broad aspect in the dealings of a country. In a country, you can always find two categories of people in relation to citizenship and they can either be a citizen or a foreigner. A citizen is a bonafide member of that country and has met certain requirements laid out by the country to be able to be pronounced as a citizen. A foreigner on the other hand, is someone who is not a citizen and is probably there for a short time or has not met the requirements available in the country to be known as a citizen. A foreigner is usually a citizen of another country and can also become a citizen of a foreign state or country after having met any of the laid out requirements listed out by the country in which the person lives or wants to claim citizenship.
According to Wikipedia, Citizenship is the status of a person recognized under the custom or law of a sovereign state or local jurisdiction. In many sovereign states citizenship is equal to nationality (not ethnicity), which is in international law the membership to a sovereign state (a nation). Each state is free to determine the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and the conditions under which that status will be withdrawn. Recognition by a state as a citizen generally carries with it recognition of civil, political, and social rights which are not afforded to non-citizens. In general, the basic rights normally regarded as arising from citizenship are the right to a passport, the right to leave and return to the country/ies of citizenship, the right to live in that country and to work there.
To become a citizen of a place, there are certain things that must be in place. One of the natural ways of being a citizen is by birth and if individuals do not meet these criteria, then they would have to apply for citizenship after which they would be asked to do certain things before and after their application. In some countries, individuals might even need to take a language test or some other test to ensure that they’re eligible to be called a citizen of a particular place. The determining factor is mostly determined by the country the individual seeking citizenship is residing. Some countries do not require writing an exam while other would want you to. Even some countries might even allow individuals seeking citizenship to get it after meeting just a few conditions.
In Nigeria, individuals can become citizens either by birth, registration and naturalization. In the constitution, the requirements that individuals need to meet to be able to called a citizen or to become a citizen of the country are well listed. Individuals must meet the conditions after which they can then be considered to become a citizen of the country. In Nigeria, there’s no need for a language test as English is quite universal and is the official language of the country as well as several other countries. If Nigeria has its own unique general language, individuals might have been required to complete or take a language test to know their capabilities with the language and if they are good with it.
Before moving straight into what the Nigerian constitution says on acquiring citizenship, I’ll be discussing the three popular citizenship types as well as a couple of other types of citizenship available all around the world.
- CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH
This is simply self explanatory. An individual can be recognized as a citizen of a place if that is where the individual was born. It is an automatic way to gain citizenship in many countries all around the world today. If you’re were in a country, then it’s almost sure that you can be called a citizen of that country. There might be some other conditions under this method of acquiring citizenship. For example it might also have conditions relating to the background of the person and if the individual’s parents or grandparents are also from the country. In that case, an individual can also be called a citizen of the country. In short, if there’s one way that individuals automatically claim the citizenship of a place, then it’s by birth. There’s almost no need for any kind of test or extra conditions to be met.
In Nigeria, the constitution states that for any individual to be regarded as a citizen of the country by birth, he/she must’ve been given birth to in Nigeria before or after independence. The individual can also be a citizen if the Parents, Grandparents and other relatives belong to an indigenous community. Nigeria is a country with a lot of ethnic groups and by indigenous communities, such individuals must have ties to a particular ethnic group or tribe in the country. Lastly, the individual can be regarded as a citizen under this method, if the Parents or Grandparents of this particular individual are citizens of Nigeria. This condition doesn’t exclude individuals who are born in another country.
- CITIZENSHIP BY NATURALIZATION
This is another popular method of acquiring citizenship. In this method, individuals are granted citizenship of a country after living in the country after a specific period of time. Individuals who have entered into the country legally and have also applied to live or stay in the county for a long time or a particular period of time can be granted citizen by naturalization when they’ve stayed in the country for a specific period of time already set by the said country. The citizenship can also be subject to certain conditions relating to the way of life of the person, possibly behavior and a host of other things. In some countries, individuals are granted citizenship after staying for five years, others for over 20 years and so on. In some cases, countries in the same area or continent or union might allow citizens from their sister nations to acquire citizenship just after a short time as compared with when it’s a complete foreigner. Sometimes, individuals might also need to renounce their previous nationality if the nation doesn’t accept dual citizenship at all.
In Nigeria, an individual can be considered for citizenship by naturalization after he/she must have met certain conditions. They must have stayed in Nigeria for fifteen years before the application date. This means for whoever decides to become a citizen through this means, they must have been residing in the country for a total of fiteeen years before they can even be considered. Such individual must also be of good character and must be of full age. They must also show clear desire to be domiciled in the country and be capable of contributing to the well-being of Nigeria and also its citizens.
- CITIZENSHIP BY REGISTRATION
This method of acquiring citizenship can also be related to citizenship by marriage. In this method, individuals gain citizenship in a country they want after meeting certain conditions and also in a case where they are married to a citizen of that country. Such individual gets registered to become a citizen just due to the affiliation. This is quite common in many countries. Once an individual gets married to a foreigner, the person can apply to become a citizen of that country if they want to.
In Nigeria, if an individual decides to seek citizenship by registration, the constitution has listed a number of conditions to be met by such individual. He/she must be of good character, this is subject to testimony from two individuals, one of which should be a religious leader. They must also show clear desire to be domiciled in the country. In case of marriage, a person can gain citizenship by getting married to a Nigerian.
Other types of Citizenship include Dual Citizenship, which involves claiming citizenship of two countries at the same time. It is not acceptable all around the world and in some places, individuals might need to renounce their previous citizenship to be able to claim another one. There’s also honorary citizenship, which is like an award or something similar that is given to an individual based on a certain criteria or achievement. In the past, there were also countries that had bias on giving citizenship based on color, social status and religion.