A constitution amendment is being considered by the lawmaker representing Egbeda/Ona Ara, Oyo State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Akin Alabi to make foreign men who marry Nigerian women eligible for citizenship.
It was gathered that Alabi is considering the constitutional amendment after a foreign man only identified as Andrew cried out that he had to leave Nigeria for a few months because of the absurd law that he cannot use his wife’s nationality to gain citizenship because she is a woman.
Section 26 of The 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides for the requirement that must be fulfilled for a foreigner to register as a Nigerian. In doing this, Section 26 surreptitiously conferred on Nigerian men, the benefit of having their wives registered as Nigerians.
Section 26 of The Constitution provides that:
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 be domiciled in Nigeria; and
c. He has taken the Oath of Allegiance prescribed in the seventh schedule to this Constitution.
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 any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria.
“I may have to leave Nigeria for a few months because of the absurd law that I can’t use my Wife’s nationality to gain citizenship because she’s a woman. Yet if I were a Nigerian man. Marrying her would grant her the ability to gain citizenship here. Second class women. And my contract is nearly over and I will need a new expatriate quota for my residency here,” Andrew tweeted using the Twitter handle @NigeriaBuilding.
Reacting, the lawmaker representing Egbeda/Ona Ara, Oyo State in the House of Representatives acknowledged constitutional amendment was not an easy task.
He, however, stated that after today’s, Tuesday 10 December 2019, plenary, he would liaise with his aides to begin the process of drafting a bill for a constitutional amendment.
“Section 26, 2 (a) of our constitution says a woman who has been married to a citizen of Nigeria may be registered as a Nigerian citizen. I think that’s awful.
“We will need a constitutional amendment so we can change the term “any woman” to “any person” or “anyone”. That will make foreign men who marry Nigerian women eligible for citizenship. Now here is where I see a small problem.
“Constitutional amendment is not an easy process. After passing the House of Representatives (3 readings) and the Senate, it will still have to go to the 36 House of Assemblies. Two thirds must pass it before it becomes law.
“If it was just an act of the National Assembly, that would have been easier and possibly take a shorter period because all we would have needed is the passage from both chambers and the president’s assent. That is not to say we should start the process.
“After plenary today, I will have a discussion with my aides and assistants to begin the process of drafting a bill for a constitutional amendment,” Alabi stated.
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