Citizenship | Definition | How to Become a Citizen
In previous article, we emphasized the need to protect the human rights of the citizens in order to ensure both individual and general welfare.
This implies that a balance should be maintained between the interests of the citizens and those of the state.
The major problem in any constitution, however, is how to reconcile the freedom of the individual with the necessary restrictions or obligations, which must be imposed on him in the overall public interest.
Another equally important problem is the need to protect the individual or citizen from their leader’s greed for power. As we noted before, the state, as the most powerful institution in the society, has control and monopoly of power.
The control of the means of violence therefore automatically translates into the control of other resources of the society such as wealth and honour.
The exercise of these enormous powers by power hungry state officials may constitute a danger to the rights and liberties of the individual if the powers of the state are not checked.
To prevent the arbitrary use of power and protect the citizens from their rulers, it is important that the relationship between the individual and the state should be regulated.
One fundamental way of doing this is to define who a citizen is and specify the rights and duties of the citizens inthe constitution of the state.
We should remember, however, that rights are created by the state and they remain rights so long as the state has power to protect them, and the people are ready to assert their rights.
Status Of The Individual
It is important to emphasize that the relationship of the individual to the state depends on his legal status. If he is a citizen, that is, an individual with full membership of his state, he enjoys all the rights.
Thus, Citizenship is a term by which we express the status of individuals who possess full political rights. In the Roman Empire, it was not every resident of the Empire that was accorded the privileged status of citizens.
Foreigners and slaves did not have such a status.
In the modern state, such as South Korea and Nigeria, citizens alone are accorded full citizenship status.
What Are The Ways of Becoming a Citizen ?
Citizenship may be acquired in the following ways:
Ways of Acquiring Citizenship
- By birth: A person is a citizen bybirth if either ofhis parents, mother or father is a citizen of a country.
- Marriage or registration: If awoman is married to a person of another nationality, she can acquire the citizenshlp of the husband’s country through registratlon. For example, a Nigerian woman married to a British, or a British Woman married to a Nigerian.
- Naturalization: Somebody can become a citizen of a country where he lives through naturalization. This is possible if he can satisfy the constitutional requirements for naturalization.
- Dual citizenship: It is legitimately possible for a person to hold citizenship of two countries. For axample a child born to Indian parents living in American becomes a U.S. citizen. The baby is also an Indian because the parents are Indians.
- Honorary citizenship: An individual could be honoured with the citizenship of another country. This is made possible if the individual has distinguished himself herself in a particular area.