- “It’s about hope, optimism, courage, and hard work,” says the VP.
- 385 foreigners from the US, UK, and others are now Nigerian citizens.
Nigeria’s cultural diversity, hard work, innovation, and infectious optimism of its people are some of the attributes that make it a great country, one that welcomes all classes of people from all over the world, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
The Vice President spoke today while representing the President at the 1st 2023 Award of Nigerian Citizenship by Registration and Naturalisation to 385 Foreign Nationals, which was held at the Nigerian Correctional Service Headquarters in Abuja.
Among the 385 recipients of 2023, Nigerian citizenship is British nationals Prof. David Jowitt and several Americans, including Mrs. Janice Opkanachi, all of whom have made their marks in different spheres of Nigerian society, impacting many lives.
Prof. Osinbajo stated that Nigeria’s greatness can be partly attributed to its diversity.
“Nigeria is a nation brimming with cultural diversity. We have a rich history of immigration from all over the world, including Africa and beyond. The greatness of our nation can be partly attributed to this. Numerous contributions have been made by immigrants to Nigerian society throughout our history.
“A lot of our current traditions—music, food, and art—have been richly influenced by people and cultures beyond our borders. We are diverse, but we remain bound and united by a shared history, undergirded by constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality. We celebrate our diversities, believing from knowledge, history, and experience that we are strengthened by these differences.”
According to him, it was a thing of joy and pride when foreigners settled in the country, felt at home, and thrived.
When these foreigners “feel so connected to the land that they choose to become one of us, it is indeed an honour,” he further noted, adding that “I welcome you all into the Nigerian family with great pride. Irrespective of your country of descent or origin or your mother tongue, Nigeria is now your country; our history and traditions are now yours.”
He urged the newest citizens of the country “to go beyond your pledge of loyalty to the flag and our laws, as well as the high ideals of the anthem and national pledge, to do what you have pledged in your daily lives and all situations.
“By earning an honest living, paying taxes and dues, volunteering for national and local causes, and making positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress, and well-being of the communities you reside in, you can live up to the words of our anthem… to serve our Fatherland with love, strength, and faith.”
Highlighting what it means to be Nigerian, the Vice President affirmed that “we are a hardworking and innovative people, a people of never-ending optimism and abundant capacity for hope. A warm and generous people, connected by a vast social network of family and friends. Many friends are even closer than family.
“We love our festivals and family celebrations; who can beat the Nigerian wedding? Our music and films are everywhere in the world; our doctors, engineers, scientists, sports figures, and literary figures are excelling daily, everywhere.”
Speaking further, the VP buttressed the very important and strategic role Nigeria plays in Africa and globally.
He said, “We have always shown ourselves to be our brothers’ keeper, leading peacekeeping forces in several troubled parts of our subregion and the continent. Our young men and women in the armed forces have given their lives and well-being to defending the peace and security of our brothers.”
Prof. Osinbajo added that through the African Union and the sub-regional body of ECOWAS, Nigeria has been at the forefront of regional economic integration and the promotion of the well-being of the African people.
“The Nigerian citizen is a citizen of Africa,” he stated, just as he further emphasized the great attributes of Nigerians as resilient and peace-loving people.
Despite the country’s challenges, the Vice President observed that nation-building takes time and the collective efforts of all citizens.
“So much has happened in this country that would have torn other nations apart, yet we are still here, growing and thriving. But let us be clear: we cannot and do not ignore or downplay our challenges, and they are many. And we have said many times that to forge ahead and succeed as a nation, we must constantly reinvigorate the social contract with our people and deepen the meaning of our Nigerian citizenship.
“Nation-building is neither a walk in the park nor a day’s work. Yet while we fully appreciate our challenges, we must not underestimate how far we have come in just six decades of nationhood. Nations that are centuries older than us are still grappling with identity politics, nationalism, social equality, national and internal security, and the assurance of decent lives and livelihoods for all.”
Commending the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Vice President noted that the Minister and his team saw “this process through which we have presented us with 385 new citizens today. I also commend the honourable Minister for the far-reaching innovations he has announced today, all of which have the President’s full and enthusiastic approval.”
Welcoming the 385 newest citizens of the country on behalf of the President, the VP also disclosed that he has directed the Nigerian Immigration Service to expedite the process of issuance of Nigerian passports to the new citizens of Nigeria.
On his part, the Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, noted the reforms by the Buhari Administration to enhance the process of earning Nigerian citizenship, noting that awarding citizenship to foreigners had positive implications for the nation’s economy.
Chronicle NG reports that the Minister commended the beneficiaries of the 2023 Nigerian Citizenship Act for believing in the country despite the challenges, noting that the Buhari Administration had laid the foundation for making it easier for more foreigners to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country as citizens.
He said that due to improvements in the processes of awarding citizenship to non-Nigerians, more foreigners have received citizenship under the Buhari administration than under any government in the history of the country.