Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, says Nigerians who are abandoning their country for so called ‘greener pastures’ abroad, should realise that foreign nationals are also applying to take up Nigerian citizenship in droves.
Fashola made the remarks during a ChannelsTV program anchored by Maupe Ogun.
“I had the opportunity of studying abroad and I preferred to live in Nigeria. I didn’t like the weather, I didn’t like the accommodation, I didn’t like the food and my position hasn’t changed. And I won’t carry another passport.
“My children were all born here. They were all raised here. Unfortunately, they had to take part of their university abroad, but as soon as they are done, they are back.
“I don’t want to apply for a work permit in another man’s land to be able to work.
“I think it’s important for the ministry of interior to now focus and publish the number of foreigners who are applying for Nigerian citizenship every year. Because I sit in council and I see the approvals being given. There are a lot of people applying for Nigerian citizenship every year.
“They have been applying since the ‘50s. There are people who do not look like you and I, but they were born here. Every year, Mr. President still considers applications for citizenship in this country that some people don’t like,” Fashola said, adding that it is not all doom and gloom in Nigeria as is being widely portrayed.
Inter tribal weddings
The minister added that members of the political elite who want to divide the nation along tribal, religious and ethnic lines will do well to visit the marriage registries where inter-tribal marriages are happening every other day.
“For those who think that there’s a real divide between Christians and Muslims, I tell them, just go to the marriage registry on Saturdays. And you’ll see how irrelevant it is for those young men and women setting out on their lives.
“They are marrying themselves and you’ll see marriages from the south of Nigeria...check...Igbo is marrying Yoruba, Yoruba is marrying Fulani...it’s going on. So, people who want to divide the country are the ones hyping these things. People are getting on with their lives," he said.
'Too much God'
Fashola also said there’s too much religion in Nigeria and that Nigerians have left the running of their nation to God.
“The other part of religion I want to talk about is a belief system that we must get rid of because it is unhelpful to our developmental aspirations. I know that people will criticize me for this, but look, listen: there’s enough work for God to do, but we haven’t done our own share.
“So, when our children pass (an exam), we thank God. When we build a house, we thank God. When we win a match, we thank God. When we do anything! In our daily conversations now, there’s too much God. We should get to work. It’s a mindset thing. In my view, it then doesn’t give you confidence that you actually achieved anything if everything was done by God," Fashola said.
A migrant crisis
Fashola has received sufficient flak this week for also saying Nigerian roads are not as bad as portrayed in the media.
Thousands of Nigerians are daily applying for Canadian, American and Australian visas as they seek an escape from dire socio-economic conditions back home. Thousands also seek an escape to Europe through illegal, dangerous routes like Libya.
Most perish in the Mediterranean during the perilous voyage.
Nigeria is contributing to the migrant crisis facing developed economies, with asylum seekers flocking to embassies in Abuja and Lagos every other hour.