LESSON NOTE ON GOVERNMENT – SSS 1
A citizen is a legal member of a sovereign state who enjoys full constitutional rights or privileges and in turn owes the state certain responsibility and obligation. Citizenship then can be understood as the status of the person who belongs to the state where he enjoys full legal rights.
WAYS OF ACQUIRING CITIZENSHIP
- There are basically three ways by which the citizenship of a state can be acquired.
- Citizenship by Birth: Generally, a person is a citizen of a state where either or both of his/her parent is a citizen. Moreover, there are few countries where anyone birthed there is a citizen irrespective the parenthood.
- Citizenship by Registration: This applies to a spouse (mostly a woman) who marries to a citizen of another nation; she can become a citizen of the state by registration having met few other criteria. For instance, such person must be of good character, show a clear intention to reside in the nation, and take the Oath of Allegiance.
- Citizenship by Naturalization: Citizenship by naturalization can be granted to a resident of a state who applies, provided he/she sarisfies the requirements laid down in the nationality law of the state.
- Other Ways of Achieving Citizenship:-
(a) Dual Citizenship: Someone can be a citizen of two nations if he/she is born by parent of a particular nation on the soil of another nation.
(b) Honorary Citizenship: The president of a country can confer honorary citizenship on an individual who distinguishes him/herself and deserves it.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR CITIZENSHIP
- The conditions to be fulfilled before citizenship is acquired vary from country to country. Some of them are as follows.
- Age Requirement: A person applying to become a citizen must have reached the full age stipulated by the state. In Nigeria, the statutory age requirement is 17 years.
- Duration of residence: The applicant must have resided continuously in the country for a stipulated number of years. For Nigeria, it is 15 years.
- Willingness to reside in the country.
- Proven good character.
- Applicant must prove that he/she is a good and acceptable resident in his/her local community.
- Legal marriage.
CAUSES OF LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP
- Voluntary denouncement.
- Imprisonment for up to three years within 5 -7years of becoming a citizen.
- Acting against one’s country during war.
- Breach of citizenship agreement.
- Committing treasonable offence or fundamental disloyalty against one’s country.
RIGHTS OF A CITIZEN
This could also be regarded as fundamental human rights which implies that every individual at birth is endowed with certain inalienable rights and pursuit of happiness. Most countries of the world are mandated by international convention to entrench the fundamental human rights in their constitution. It is the responsibility of every country especially members of the United Nations Organization (UNO) to ensure their citizens enjoy those rights.
- Right to self-determination.
- Right to liberty.
- Right to due process of law.
- Right to freedom of movement.
- Right to freedom of thought.
- Right to freedom of religion.
- Right to freedom of expression.
- Right to peaceful assembly.
- Right to freedom of association.
- Right to education.
LIMITATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF A CITIZEN
Apart from losing citizenship, a citizen may be legitimately deprived of his/her rights temporarily in certain situation or conditions. This is a credence to the principle that no right is absolute. People enjoy their fundamental rights to the extent of abiding by the laws of the land and not infringing on the rights of others. Limitations to the rights of a citizen include:
- Curfew or restriction during emergency.
- The right to vote and be voted for is lost when a citizen is convicted and imprisoned.
- Freedom of expression does not include the right to slander or libel other citizens.
- A citizen may lose his/her right to protection of law if he/she trespasses on other person’s property.
- If a citizen takes another person’s life, he/she risk losing their right to life or freedom.
- The rights of a citizen could also be limited by the kind of government in power; especially if it is less democratic.
- If a citizen desires to belong to a group which threatens the state’s security, his/her right to freedom of association will be suspended.
- (a) Who is a citizen?
- (b) Mention ways of acquiring citizenship.
- (c) State the limitations to a citizen’s rights.
- (d) What are the fundamental rights of man?