FG decries expatriate quota abuses, targets 60,000 understudy jobs annually

The Federal Government has expressed worries that foreigners are gradually taking over employment opportunities in Nigeria as a result of weak enforcement of the expatriate quota regime, vowing to henceforth sanction firms and individuals involved in expatriate quota abuses.

Minister of Interior, Ọgbẹni Rauf Arẹgbẹsọla, spoke on Wednesday, at the second stakeholders’ meeting for validation of the Handbook on Expatriate Quota Administration in Nigeria.

He said: “Some of the abuses we have discovered are egregious. We have seen cases of expatriates fraudulently coming in to work as bricklayers, painters and even high-end consorts.

“Some also circumvent the rules by dubiously acquiring Nigerian citizenship through sham marriages. The funny but tragic case of some Asians hawking vegetables went viral. These are clear economic sabotage acts that should be detected, stopped and sanctioned,” he said.

Arẹgbẹsọla noted that with strict compliance with local content regulation and national interest, about 60,000 middle-level employment opportunities are expected annually through the compulsory understudy programme for knowledge and skill transfer.

The understudy clause in the expatriate policy provides for two Nigerians to understudy an expatriate for a maximum period of four years at the end of which the position shall be Nigerianised in order to promote a seamless transfer of technology to Nigerians.

The Minister also revealed that an average of 30,000 expatriate quotas are issued and given to about 4,000 companies annually.

He recalled that he inaugurated a nine-man Special Task Force on Business Permit & Expatriate Quota Administration on December 1st, 2020, saddling them with the responsibility to investigate, inspect, penalise and enforce sanctions on organizations confirmed to have abused the utilization of expatriate quotas in Nigeria, whether they are indigenous, joint ventures or wholly foreign.

He expressed optimism that at the end of the stakeholders’ meeting a brand new, well-articulated Handbook on Expatriate Quota Administration would be produced, that would have fair and reasonable sanctions that would be effective enough to curb abuses of Business Permit & Expatriate Quota.

He said through strict enforcement the benefits and revenues accruable to the country would now begin to pour in; while the teeming unemployed youth in Nigeria would have increased opportunities for employment through the understudy p6rogramme stipulated in the Expatriate Quota guideline.

Director, Employment and Wages, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Nyamali John Audu, who represented his Ministry at the event said the influx of expatriate workers into the country has deprived qualified Nigerians opportunities to be gainfully employed and also promotes capital flight.

He said: “The abuse of expatriate quota ranges from the deployment of unqualified personnel or the re-designation of personnel in a manner not consistent with their training and skills in order to give them undeserved positions.

“The discovery that many companies have employed artisans such as welders, electricians, expatriates and that many expatriates have worked in Nigeria for more than five years on temporary work permit visas which are fraudulently renewed is increasingly worrisome,” he said.

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FG decries expatriate quota abuses, targets 60,000 understudy jobs annually

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