Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
Federal Government has come under severe criticism from organised labour for its failure to check the abuse of the expatriate quota of multinationals operating in the country.
Speaking at the inauguration of the multi-million naira Kwara/Kogi/Niger branch secretariat of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) in Ilorin, Kwara State, last week, the national president of the union, Lateef Oyelekan, said the failure of government to act decisively has further compounded the problem of unemployment in Nigeria.
“Our government should take this issue of expatraite quota abuse seriously and take a decision that will be beneficial to the country, just as Ghana has done,” he said.
Oyelekan noted that the law of the country only allows expatriates on technical grounds, but multinationals in the country no longer respect the law. According to him, the companies now bring in exapatriates as line managers, accountants, sales and marketing managers and for other jobs that Nigerians are more qualified for.
He said, “Government should ensure that no expatriate comes in for jobs that Nigerians can do. Specifically, marketing and sales, when you make a foreigner to be a marketing director, what does the person know about our terrain and market?
“Most of our jobs have been taking over by expatriates and we continue to complain of rising unemployment in the country.”
Oyelekan said labour would no longer tolerate Nigerians being made to play second fiddle in their own country.
Recently, workers in the aviation sector, under the umbrella of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers, had shut down the operations of the Bristow Helicopters and Caverton Helicopters nationwide, alleging expatriate quota abuse and gross violation of workers’ rights.
The NUFBTE president said all efforts towards creating more employment should be encouraged, adding that the union, through its entrepreneurial ventures, has over 200 employees.
“Our goal is to give all our state branches buildings of their own and empower them to go into business; through that more jobs will be created. This we are doing as our little effort to support government,” he said.
The union leader also noted that the foundation of the new secretariat was laid in 1993, but his leadership, as part of its commitment to position the union as a self-sustaining organisation with little reliance on employers, has undertaken several ventures and completed many of such projects.
The director-general of the Michael Imoudu Labour Institute, Alhaji Saliu Alabi, who represented the minister of labour, Sen. Chris Ngige, at the inauguration, commended the NUFBTE for its foresight to remain financially relevant in spite of dwindling check-off dues.
The Nigeria Breweries employee relations manager, Mr. Niyi Alabi, equally described the new building completed in spite of the present recession as a national pride. He charged the union to extend the goodwill to other councils.