The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has said that the Federal Government was set to sanction any foreign organisation who breached the country’s Expatriate Quota rule.
Expatriate Quota is the total number of quota given to foreign companies within which to operate in the country.
Aregbesola gave the warning at the 2nd Stakeholders’ meeting on Expatriate Quota Administration in Nigeria at the Grand Pela Hotel and Suites, on Wednesday, in Abuja.
The Minister noted that it had become imperative to impose severe sanctions on whoever breached the country’s Expatriate Quota rules, noting that it had seriously impacted on the rate of unemployment in the country.
“Whoever is not worried about the rate of unemployment in the country is not a patriot. We must be concerned about the high level of unemployment in the country.
“This is largely due to the breach of the quota rules by foreign companies, who take up most of the jobs that ordinarily would have been taken by our citizens,“ he said.
Aregbesola recalled that he inaugurated a nine-man Special Task Force on business permit on Expatriate Quota Administration (EQA), on Dec. 1, 2020, to investigate, inspect, penalise and enforce sanctions for breaching the utilisation of EQA.
“In Nigeria, whether indigenous joint venture or foreign, this permit and EQ are the best practices globally.
‘’ Every nation regulates its economic relations with other nations, in a mutually beneficial way, but putting its national interest and citizens above others.
“All nations of the world, in short there is no nation that can be careless of it because every nation is there to promote, advance and to protect the interest of its own citizens.
“It is a healthy competition that has survived the test of time. If properly and effectively managed, it will lead to technology transfer, manpower development and rapid industrialisation.
“Where nations are careless or unmindful of it, it leads to untold consequences of lopsided and imbalanced relationship, foreign domination, stunted development of the host country’s personnel, and ultimately creates a dependency syndrome,“ he said.
The Minister noted that the country had suffered from the syndrome of quota breach to a reasonable degree, due to a non-diligent implementation of the rules and guidelines.
“It is also replicable in many African and developing economies. So, this is a very serious national policy, as an average of 30,000 expatriate quota positions are issued and given to about 4,000 companies annually on the average.
“In strict compliance with local content regulations and national interest, therefore, about 60,000 middle level employment opportunities are expected to be created equally and annually for knowledge and skills transfer.
“But unfortunately, the country does not seem to benefit from these and the question to ask is that, since we do not have the benefits, how do we organise ourselves to earn it,“ the Minister noted.
Aregbesola reminded those behind such practices to desist as the Federal Government had resolved to deal decisively with them.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Yerima Tarfa, noted that Nigeria had reached a stage where the enabling Act , guidelines, processes and its monitoring/evaluation had to be holistically reviewed to achieve local content.
Tarfa was represented by the Director of Employment and Wages, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Inyamali Audu.
He noted further that local capacity that existed and which held prospective job opportunities for thousands of Nigerians were unlawfully and arbitrarily filled by expatriate firms, especially in the construction and oil and gas sectors.
“The concern is not just that Nigerians are denied the available opportunities in these areas, but many companies actually exceed their legitimate quota,“ he said.
He urged the Federal Government to rise up to the challenge and come up with stringent measures to address the ugly trend, as well as ensuring that the local contents were secured.