By Yahaya Isah, Abuja.
The Minister of Interior, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola, has decried the abuses and gross violations of Nigeria’s expatriate quota policy by foreigners and some organisations in the country.
The minister condemned the practice on Tuesday in Abuja at the re-inauguration of the expanded Taskforce on Expatriate Quota Administration to achieve effective and efficient service delivery
Aregbesola said: “These abuses include, but not limited to, companies employing expatriates without approval from the ministry; allegations of companies obtaining fake permits for their expatriates; companies half-hearted or non-commitment to grooming Nigerian understudies.
“Companies recruiting fewer than required understudies and giving them non-commensurate remunerations; illegal transfers of approvals between and among firms and expatriates.
“Failure to train Nigerian understudies up to the standard of the expatriates they are being groomed to replace; and expatriates staying on their jobs for more than 10 years.”
A statement by Mr Afonja Ajibola, Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Interior, made available to newsmen in Abuja, quoted Aregbesola as saying that there was no room for carelessness.
The minister said that where nations were careless or unmindful, it led to untoward consequences of lopsided and imbalanced relationship, foreign domination and stunted development of the host country’s personnel and economy.
Aregbesola recalled that the taskforce was first inaugurated on Dec. 1, 2020 but some developments and matters arising necessitated the expansion of the membership of the taskforce, hence its re-inauguration.
“Expatriate quota is a global best practice. It is one of the means through which countries protect their economies and stimulate development through healthy interactions with other nations.
“It is one of the ways through which innovations and development spread globally.
“It is also a means for regulating social and cultural interaction and avoiding swamping. When it is well-followed, it fosters healthy economic, social and cultural relationships among nations,’’ he said.
The minister charged the 21-member taskforce, which has Bola Ilori as its Chairman and Ejike Osibe as its Secretary, to do their work diligently.
“You should step on toes, where necessary and when it becomes unavoidable.
“Always have at the back of your mind that you have the backing of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, especially the ministry,’’ he said.
Aregbesola, however, clarified that the taskforce was not to witch-hunt or attempt to make foreigners and their companies uncomfortable.
He said that the taskforce had the mandate to ensure that the laws of the land were complied with by foreigners, just like Nigerians.
“Be courteous, but firm; be unobtrusive but detailed in your investigations. I, therefore, wish you success in the job ahead of you,’’ he said.
The minister said that the expatriate quota policy provided an effective means for documenting foreigners’ presence, their activities and ensuring their protection.
He said that expatriate quotas were issued to usually foreigners and in some cases, Nigerian firms to enable them bring in high-level skilled manpower that was not readily available in the country.
According to him, the permits are valid for two years at the first instance and renewable cumulatively for a maximum of 10 years, after which the expatriate returns to his or her country.
“During this period, at least two Nigerians should be groomed to take over from the expatriate.
“This policy attracts investments in our economy; it also brings with it high-level manpower development and ensures technology transfer, if the grooming of Nigerian understudies is done in good faith,” Aregbesola said.
He said that this was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to provide 100 million jobs for Nigerians.