From Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
In pursuit of its policy of easing foreign direct investment without jeopardising local content considerations, the Federal Government of Nigeria has announced that an average of 30,000 expatriate quotas are issued and given to about 4,000 companies annually.
It added that in strict compliance with local content regulations and national interests, about 60,000 middle level employment opportunities are expected annually through the compulsory understudy programme for knowledge and skill transfer.
This was disclosed by Minister of Interior Ogbeni Raul Aregbesola at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on expatriate quota administration held in Abuja.
The minister pointed out that Business Permit & Expatriate quota administration is a global best practice and every country regulates its economic relations with other countries in a mutually beneficial way, but putting its national interests and citizens above others.
According to him, ‘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.’
On the other hand, ‘where nations are careless or unmindful, it leads to untoward consequences of lopsided and imbalanced relationship, foreign domination and stunted development of the host country’s personnel and economy and ultimately creates a dependency syndrome,’ he added.
Ogbeni Aregbesola said: ‘This is not some far-fetched idea. We have suffered this syndrome to a reasonable degree due to non-diligent implementation of the rules and guidelines and it is what we are trying to correct now. It is also replicable in many African and developing economies. So, this is a very serious national policy.’
He frowned at some of the abuses, which he described as egregious, revealing that ‘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 scam 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.’
Aregbesola urged the stakeholders to come up with a brand new, well-articulated handbook on expatriate quota administration that would have a fair and reasonable sanctions that will be effective enough to curb abuses of Business Permit & Expatriate Quota, among others.
He said it should also encorporate the benefits and revenues accruable to the country, and that ‘the teeming unemployed youth in Nigeria would have increased opportunities for employment through the understudy programme stipulated in the Expatriate Quota guideline; and Companies & Organisations that are clients of the Ministry’s C&B department would have a clear understanding of the guidelines and issues surrounding the administration of Business Permit & Expatriate Quota.’
On December t1 2020, the minister inaugurated a nine-man Special Task Force on Business Permit & Expatriate Quota Administration, saddled with the responsibility to investigate, inspect, penalise and enforce sanctions on organisations confirmed to have abused the utilisation of expatriate quotas in Nigeria, whether they are indigenous, joint ventures or wholly foreign.