The Federal Government has announced a new pathway to permanent residency in Nigeria, just as it conferred Nigerian Citizenship on 385 deserving adult foreign nationals from different countries in a ceremony presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja.
In his remarks at the conferment ceremony which held at Dambazzau Hall, Nigeria Correctional Service Headquarters, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, announced the arrival of Nigeria’s brown card after the approval of Mr. President and the Federal Executive Council. The Brown Card he stated is a new legal instrument to permanent residency for eligible foreign nationals.
“I am happy to announce the Brown Card, as the legal instrument to Permanent Residency. The Minister of Interior is now invested with the authority to confer Permanent Residency on non- Nigerian persons, enabling such beneficiaries to live and work in Nigeria without the requirement of renewal every five years, as was the case.
“The legal instrument that would confer this newly created status is to be called the brown card. Those who are qualified for this new instrument of Permanent Residency are as follows: Foreign nationals of African descent who desire to make Nigeria their homeland through the ‘Privilege of Return’; Foreign nationals who desire to invest in Nigeria in line with established guidelines; Foreign nationals who had demonstrated exceptional talents, knowledge and skills in rare fields of Science, Technology, Medicine, Engineering, the Arts, Sports and other areas as might be determined from time to time; and Male foreign nationals married to Nigerian women for a minimum period of one year,” the Minister revealed.
Presenting all deserving foreign nationals to President Buhari for conferment of Nigeria citizenship, Aregbesola asserted that foreigners striving to become Nigerian citizens in their numbers, is an indication that the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is yielding good fruits.
He said; “I need to state that the acquisition of the Nigerian citizenship is a great privilege and not everyone that applies becomes successful. However, that we have a high number of foreigners willing to become Nigerians is an indication that the ongoing efforts of the Federal Government to make Nigeria a destination for investment and peaceful coexistence is beginning to yield good fruits as we continue to welcome foreigners to do business here who, after interacting with us, are now desirous of becoming one of us.
The minister noted that so far, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has produced the largest number of foreigners who have been conferred Nigerian Citizenship through naturalization or registration.
“In 2017, 335 people took up Nigerian citizenship. But last year, 286 foreigners and today at this ceremony, 385, making a total of 1,006 who have acquired Nigerian citizenship.”
Aregbesola however reminded the new citizens that they will be required to make the best contribution ever to the development of Nigeria in every area, including the defence of her territorial integrity (if need be) and promotion of the welfare of the people.