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Some of the 286 foreigners conferred with Nigerian citizenship on Thursday have explained why they chose to become Nigerians at a time the country was going through some challenges.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that 208 of them were conferred citizenship status by naturalisation and the remaining 78 by registration.
A German businessman, Mr Hubertus Diers, explained why he chose to become a Nigerian after 42 years traversing all the nook and cranny of the country.
Dier, who runs a company, DIPOX’ Industrial Flooring Solutions, spoke after he was conferred with Nigerian citizenship at a ceremony held at the Federal Ministry of Interior, in Abuja.
The German is among the 286 foreigners including 86 Lebanese, 14 Britons, and four Americans conferred with Nigerian citizenship.
Diers explained that he applied for Nigerian citizenship over five years ago and was happy that his long-time dream had come to fruition.
According to him, it will now be easier to run his business and live with his family.
“I have invested and founded a company in Nigeria. My first trip to Nigeria was in 1979; I have executed some projects in Umuahia, installing industrial floors for some companies and those floors are still in use to date.
“Over 42 years now I have been living mainly in Nigeria, I have many other opportunities and offers, but I did not follow up.
“In the 90s, I was in Ghana, but comparing its business life with that of Nigeria, it’s not the kind of country for my business.”
He said that the number of years he had spent in Nigeria, business opportunities and the hospitable nature of Nigerians, made him apply to become a Nigerian.
“I have traversed all the nook and cranny of Nigeria, I can say I know Nigeria better than my life, installing industrial floors,“ he said.
A Briton, Mr Jack Osankare, who has lived in Nigeria for about two decades, said he decided to seek Nigerian citizenship about 10 years ago, to enable him settle down as a Nigerian and go about his business seamlessly.
He expressed delight now that his dream has come through.
“Nigeria is a country I so much love and would want to retire here. I love Nigerians because they are respectful, hospitable and treat foreigners like their brothers and sisters,” he said.
Another recipient, Mrs Darakhshan Khalid, a Pakistani, said she had been living in Nigeria over a decade ago shortly after getting married to her Pakistani husband.
She also said that she had been struggling to become a citizen of Nigeria over the years, but to no avail until now.
“I like everything about the country, its citizens, the environment generally. Nigerians are very accommodating and hospitable and I have always seen Nigeria as my second home,” Khalid said.
They all pledged to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
In his speech, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said it was a good decision for them to have chosen to become citizens of Nigeria.
“I am proud to be part of you this afternoon having decided to take up the citizenship of our great nation, Nigeria, in spite of the challenges the country is passing through.
“I assure you that you will not regret your decision and Nigeria will continue to treat you as one of us, irrespective of the status of your citizenship,“ he said.
The minister urged them to continue to be good ambassadors of the country.
“I pray that the almighty God will continue to bless you all in integration as you have now become part of us, “Aregbesola said.
Also, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Shuaib Belgore, said those conferred with Nigerian citizenship proved themselves and contributed immensely to the economic development of the country.
“I, therefore, encourage you to continue in that direction by adding value to the economic development of the country.
“No doubt you have the capacity, you are recognised and encouraged to continue to do more for your country, Nigeria.
“I congratulate you all and will continue to encourage you to be the best you have always been.
“We are all citizens now and it is our hope that as soon as the ministry got approval from the Federal Government, we will attend to another set.
“We thank you all for the determination to join us as Nigerians in this trying time when sometimes we are even receiving requests from foreigners to renounce their citizenship,“ Belgore said. (NAN).