• As over 300 Nigerians are stranded in UAE


‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, Abuja – It is a tale of mix-fortunes as President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday in Abuja, awarded Nigerian citizenship to 286 foreign nationals while the trending news of over 300 Nigerians stranded Nigerians in Dubai rent the social media.


The president urged the new Nigerians to be good citizens of the country to enjoy all the rights and privileges bestowed on them.


”You have pledged your allegiance to Nigeria. When you give your love and loyalty to Nigeria, she returns her love and loyalty to you,” the President told the beneficiaries during an event at the State House.


The President explained that out of the 286 foreign nationals presented with certificates of Nigerian Citizenship, 208 received certificates for Naturalisation, while 78 got certificates for Registration.


According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, Buhari urged them to make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress and well-being of the different communities they reside, adding that as citizens they must be in accord with the national ethics and code of conduct.


”You are expected to abide by the Ideals and Institution of the Nigerian National Flag, Anthem, Pledge and respect for all Constituted Authorities.


”All those concerned with Immigration matters are to offer our new citizens quick legal identification. Also, their Local Governments should assist with their integration in the local community to enable them enjoy all the entitlements of a Nigerian citizen,” Buhari said.


In exercising the constitutional powers conferred on him, by Chapter III, Sections 25-31 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the President told the new citizens that Nigeria is a nation united by the principles of opportunity, equality, and liberty as enshrined in the Constitution.


”No matter where you come from, or what faith you practice, this country is now your country. Our history is now your history, and our traditions are now your traditions. Nigeria is your home and pride and joy.


”In line with our transformational ideals of strict adherence to due process and transparent procedures, the Ministry of Interior ensured that only deserving persons were recommended to the Federal Executive Council to be conferred with Nigerian citizenship,” he added.


President Buhari recounted that the Federal Government in 2020 adopted the National Action Plan to eradicate statelessness and accordingly, the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, inaugurated the High-level Steering Committee to Eradicate Statelessness in Nigeria by 2024.


”This ceremony therefore is a further demonstration of the Federal Government’s commitment and determination to remove as many people as possible from statelessness.


”In this regard, I will like to reiterate our commitment to the strategic role Nigeria plays in the comity of nations, in its unwavering quest for greater human integration, towards ensuring peace and prosperity,” he noted.


Over 300 Nigerians illegally in UAE awaiting deportation


The Chairman/CEO, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Hon. (Dr) Abike Dabiri-Erewa has advised Nigerians who illegally travelled to the UAE and are stranded there not to make an already bad case worse by resorting to media blackmail.


This was contained in a statement signed by head of media, public relations and protocols, Abdur-Rahman Balogun today, Sept. 15, 2022.


The statement reads: “Apparently responding to a post that “300 Nigerians abandoned in Dubai as NIDCOM, NAPTIP, Foreign Affairs relax evacuation effort” on some social media blogs on Wednesday, the NIDCOM boss said despite several warnings by the Federal Government of Nigeria through its relevant agencies on consequences of illegal migration to the UAE and other countries, it was regrettable that some Nigerians still found themselves as victims of this irregular act.


“In line with its citizens diplomacy, the Federal Government had approved the evacuation of over 300 Nigerians stranded in the UAE. Regrettably, many of those affected have not been totally cooperative as they refused to follow the laid down procedures.


“Investigations also revealed that over 100 Nigerians who had served various jail sentences (ranging from drugs to credit card frauds, robberies etc.) suddenly landed at the holding centres , demanding of the Nigerian consulate in Dubai to “immediately “bring them back. Their voices have been the loudest.


Dabiri-Erewa said rather than complying with the directives of the Nigerian consulate in Dubai ,some Nigerians were busy pursuing a media blackmail of the Federal Government as well as the UAE government. This media blackmail, she said, will make an already bad case, worse, noting that rules on such cases would not be circumvented.


“Recalling several warnings to Nigerians, particularly on the zero tolerance of the UAE for the consequences of flouting their rules, she added that the allegation that Nigerians were abandoned in Dubai is completely untrue and misleading as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Mission have been working assiduously with the UAE authorities to assist over 300 Nigerians stranded in the country for various reasons, ranging from overstay, lost passports, lack of documentation especially in the case of infants, to pending cases with the Emirati Police.


She advised Nigerians so affected to comply with the laid down rules and regulations as stipulated by the UAE and the Nigeria Consulate in Dubai , and await further communication from officials of the mission who have constantly visited them at the holding centre.”


‘‘The more the merrier’’


Many reasons have been adduced for the illegal migration from Nigeria to other countries but top on the list is shrinking economic opportunities due to the growing population. However, the minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola seem to disagree; in his address at the occasion titled, ‘‘The more the merrier’’, said the beneficiaries were from the United States, Europe, the Americas, Asia, Middle East, Oceania and Africa, who have seen the good in Nigeria.


”Without any doubt, Nigeria is a great nation, richly endowed and blessed with great people. Smart people continue to flock to our country to do business with us,’’ Aregbesola said, adding that Nigeria would continue to welcome every qualified citizenship applicant.


The Minister described the conferment ceremony as a celebration of the oneness of the human race, consistent with the mandate of the Ministry and the Buhari administration to lay a solid socio-economic and political foundation that will thrust Nigeria into one of the top 20 economies in the world.


”To achieve this lofty vision, the government is determined to encourage and attract foreign investors, high-net worth individuals, highly-skilled individuals and people with rare talents and strategic competencies into our country,” Aregbesola said.


Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr Shuaib Belgore, read citations of select beneficiaries who received certificates and symbols of citizenship from President Buhari.


They are Mrs. Kathryn Teresa Barrera, an American citizen, Professor Albert Alos Rovira, a Spanish citizen, Mr. Giuseppe Bellini, an Italian citizen, Dr. Nasra Ali, a Kenyan, Rev. Prof. John Brown Okwii, a Ugandan and Prof. Oumar Al-Moubarak Adoun, a Chadian citizen.


Speaking on behalf of the new citizens, Barrera, who arrived Nigeria in 1974 at age 24, thanked the President, staff of the Ministry of Interior for making their dreams come true.


The 72-year old Nigerian-American is the proprietress of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mother and Children Welfare Association, caregiver of orphans and vulnerable children including children living with HIV/AIDS.


She currently lives with 20 children and young adults in training and in University, according to the citation read by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior.