The Citizen and the Making of the State

The Citizen and the Making of the State
The Citizen and the Making of the State

The state to a large extent is a product of the collective will of the citizens and subsists by the same will. Considered from majority of the schools of thought in existence regarding the evolution of the state, it is a fact that the citizen, more than any other element plays the most prominent role in the formation and sustenance of the state.

The literal argument surrounding the debate about the seniority between the egg and the hen cannot be re-enacted in this instance because it is clear that men made the state and not the citizens.

Whether acting as individuals or as members of groups, the role of the citizens in the making of the state cannot be overemphasized. This point is buttressed by the fact that at various points in human history, evidence abound to prove that men, through overt and or covert means tend to compel the state to come to terms with the reality that it is their creature and has to work to the benefit of their collective interest. Case in point was the mass uprising that swept through majority of the Arab World (from February, 2011 – September 2012 and beyond). From Tunisian to Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Syria and others, citizens took to the streets for months, demanding the removal of some of their dictatorial and long-ruling leaders. As at June 4, 2011, the deposed Tunisian President was sentence to 15 years in prison by a court, which found him guilty of corruption and atrocities committed against the citizens of that country while in office. Not long after, the dictatorial regime in Egypt and Libya caved in to the people’s will and wish. Unfortunately, Gaddafi of Libya paid with his life.

Acquisition of Citizen

Acquisition of Citizen

The citizenship status of a state can be acquired through one of these generally postulated methods: by birth (naturalized born).

a)     Citizenship by Blood: This criterion for citizenship has been variously traced to the early Greek city-states and the Roman Empire. This practice has attained universal acceptability. A person automatically acquires the citizenship status of the place of his/her birth and subsequently owes loyalty to such a state. This process is referred to as ‘The law of blood’ (Jus Sanguins).

The legal implication of Jus Sanguins is that irrespective of the part of the globe that they may find themselves as residents, once a child is born to parents of a particular state, that child is automatically a citizen of the state; with the rights and privileges that appertain there from. For example, by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), every persons whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria is automatically a citizen of Nigeria.

 In the letters of the Constitution, it is stated that:

     i.              Every person born in Nigeria before the date of independence either of whose parents or any whose        grandparents belongs or belongs in a community indigenous to Nigeria. A person shall not become a   citizen of Nigeria if neither of his parents nor any of his grandparents was a Nigerian citizen;

    ii.              Every person born in Nigeria after the date of independence either of whose parents or any of whose      grandparent is a citizen of Nigeria; and Every person born outside Nigerian either of whose parents is    a  citizen.

  iii.            b)     Citizenship by Place of Birth: this is a process known as the     law of the place (Jus Soli). The   law of jus soli implores citizenship on any person that is born within the territory of a state,   irrespective  of the nationality of his or her parent. For a number of countries, the word ‘territory’   extends beyond the country’s sea, land and air boundaries to include it embassies, sea going vessels      and airplanes.


c)     Citizenship by Naturalization: Citizenship by legal process refers to a universal practice which enables aliens of foreigners (resident in a state outside their original state of birth) to apply for an acquired citizenship of that state. Each state has it laid down conditions which if met by the applicant successfully may earn him the desire new status. Part of the requirement is that the applicant for naturalization must renounce or abandon his or her earlier citizens. Thus, under international convention, every state is at liberty to accept any person as it citizen by the legal process of naturalization. “A spouse or a child of a person who have acquired citizenship of a state by naturalization could also drive citizenship by reasons of the naturalization of his or her relation”.


d)     Honorary Citizenship: This is also the Honorary Citizenship, which is bestowed on an individual by a country different from his country of origin. In this instance, the granting country’s constitution may not necessarily require such awardees to apply for it. He/she is largely awarded such status of the basis of some laid down criteria. Such person must have been adjudged as a person of good character (worthy of emulation by the youths) and or someone who has contributed selflessly to the advancement of the course of humanity. The former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela has been recipient of such awards.

There are however, some other methods adopted for the acquisition of citizenship status in different countries. Awofeso (2010) has rightly observed that, “citizenship by naturalization could take different forms …… other (sic) includes derivative, naturalization; collective naturalization and formal registration’’.

  f)       Forfeiture of Citizenship

Every country’s constitution that makes provisions for the acquisition of citizenship by any means would of necessity, make provisions for the withdrawal of the status granted. A branch of the constitution’s provisions/sections could lead to forfeiture of citizenship in a given country. Hence, a citizen can loss his or her citizenship through voluntary or compulsory means. The condition, under which an individual may suffer the loss of citizenship, Awofeso (2010) has added, varies from country to country. He makes a list of some general conditions under which a citizen of a country could be deprived of his or her citizenship to include the following:

         A natural born citizen may suffer such it:

a.      He/she renounces his/her citizenship and acquires another country’s citizenship;

b.      A woman may loss her citizenship through marriage to a foreigner;

c.      A person absents from his/her country for a very long period of time and refuses to renew it through his/her embassy;

d.      Some countries deny citizenship status to a person who absconds from the army or proves to be a traitor;

e.      A person joins foreign services or receives foreign honour without obtaining permission from his/her country.


         A person who acquires citizenship through the legal process (naturalization) may forfeit such title under the following conditions:

i.       If he/she renounces his/her newly acquired citizenship;

ii.      If the government of the country denies him/her of the right to naturalize;

iii.     If he/she maintains a dual citizenship or refuses to renounce the citizenship of his/her former country;

iv.     It within a specified period of time he/she acquired the citizenship, the person was jailed for more than three years;

v.      If within a specified period of time the citizen in question joins any subversive organization.

vi.     If the person in question is found guilty of treasonable felony;

vii.     If the persons’ activities are inimical or detrimental to the corporate existence and interest of the country, e.g. assisting an enemy nation in times of war or aiding the activities of dissidents;

viii.    If the person in question had lied on oath or falsified any document to qualify him/her for the citizenship.

 Thank you for reading 

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