The Federal Government has said that around 159 Nigerians renounced their Nigerian citizenship in 2022.

Rauf Aregbesola, the interior minister, revealed this when he appeared at the 64th weekly press conference organized by the Presidential Press Team, at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday.

Aregbesola said that while 309 renounced their Nigerian citizenship between 2006 and 2022, “a total of 159 left the country and renounced their Nigerian citizenship, in 2022 alone.”

According to him, a total of 350 naturalization applications are currently being processed while the ministry will meet in February to shortlist those eligible for Nigerian citizenship.

Aregbesola said the number of Nigerians leaving the country has put pressure on the issuance of Nigerian passports, with a total of 1.7 million passports being produced last year alone, the highest ever.

Aregbesola also stated that the Federal Fire Service saved a total of N25.22 billion of properties in eight years, while N3.18 billion worth of properties were destroyed during the period.

“We saved 2,000 lives, while 366 lives were lost to fire, from 2015 to date”

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Speaking about the passport shortage and the challenges faced by Nigerians in the diaspora, the minister said that the Federal Government has embarked on a reform, including digitizing the passport issuance process, which will make the issuance smooth.

He said while the Ministry is working to resolve the issues with the Foreign Ministry over the arrangements to facilitate passport for Nigerians in the diaspora.

“Temporary emergency ePassports are being issued for one-way travel only to replace emergency travel certificates valid for three months.

“We issued a total of 1.7 million passports with more than 200,000 booklets, still in our custody, adding that “we registered more than 80% in terms of performance compared to the number of passport applications received last year.

The minister also revealed that more than 70 citizens from South Korea, Egypt, Sri Lanka and many others were deported by order of the ministry last year.

On the abuse of the expatriate quota, Aregbesola said the ministry was working to reduce the expatriate quota from 10 to 7 years, as well as limiting it to only jobs on the critical list that Nigerians cannot undertake.

“We have created online links for expat quota and ensure that Nigerian graduates are employed to study expats, for a smooth succession.

The minister, who also said that 297 projects were monitored and evaluated within the period under review, added that the ministry was building a new detention center in Kano that will hold about 3,000 inmates when completed.

He said the Nigerian Correctional Service was training officers in the handling of weapons to deal with the problems of incessant attacks that the agency has been subjected to in recent years.

“We are now ordering officers to carry weapons to properly respond to those who want to violate correctional services facilities.”