The Federal Government has expressed concerns over the ongoing abuse of the expatriate quota policy by both local and foreign companies.
According to The Punch, the Federal Government stated that stricter penalties will be imposed on those who violate the policy.
The expatriate quota policy is a permit granted to companies by the government that permits them to employ foreign workers with specialized skills in areas where there may not be enough local expertise available for a certain period.
The Chairman of the Taskforce on Expatriate Quota Administration in Nigeria under the Ministry of Interior, Hon. Bola Ilori, spoke on Wednesday to journalists after leading a team to inspect some companies in Rivers State.
According to the report, the companies inspected were Daewoo Engineering and Construction in Onne, Eleme local government area, Ports and Terminal Operators Limited in Port Harcourt, and Sudelettra Nigeria Limited, all located within the state.
Ilori stated that the policy’s objective was to ensure that Nigerians are not disadvantaged and that the country benefits from the activities of expatriates who come here.
He emphasized that it is crucial to ensure that the policy is correctly implemented so that it serves its intended purpose.
In his words, “The exercise is not to witch-hunt any company in particular. It is to ensure that they comply with what they promised to do.
“And in the spirit of expatriate quota administration to ensure that Nigerians are employed. What informed the federal government is that what they (companies) are applying for is for people who have special skills that are not available in Nigeria.
“So, if we now give them that quota to bring in people, they must be seen to be doing what they have applied to do. For some, they are doing well, for some they are not. They don’t comply, some even engage in racketeering of the expatriate quota.”
He made complaints about some companies that receive quotas and do not make use of them.
Ilori said, “Like this company now, Sudelettra, they got a quota, but nobody is working. That means it is either they are racketeering in the quota they got or something else is happening that we will still know. We have requested that they should bring forth all their documents.”
He further stated, “If we realize that they are not using the application, we delist them. So rather than just compiling an empty quota for people that can even turn out to become security for Nigeria.”
The Chairman of the Taskforce on Expatriate Quota Administration in Nigeria has also drawn attention to the issue of unemployed Nigerian graduates despite the presence of expatriates in the country.
He proposed a solution, stating that for every foreign worker that is employed, two Nigerians should be hired to learn from them. This will enable Nigerians to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to take over once the expatriates leave.
In his words, “If you go to embassies it is done everywhere. The new administration coming in Nigeria will have a whole lot to learn from the report we are putting together for the sanitisation of the quota system in Nigeria.
“They must employ qualified Nigerians to understudy those people to take over from them. So, the fact that they are not now using it means that they are short-changing Nigerians. So many unemployed in Nigeria are roaming the streets without jobs.
Ilori stressed that it is essential for the Ministry of Interior and the government as a whole to ensure that fraudulent practices are minimized or eradicated. He emphasized the need for the government to authenticate the credentials presented by expatriates before they are granted permission to work in Nigeria.
Responding to the request of the task force, a representative of Sudelettra Nigeria Limited, Desmond Oluwasegun, assured to forward all requested documents.
According to the General Manager of Administration at Daewoo Engineering and Construction, Ikenna Nweze, the company is adhering to the expatriate quota policy.
He stated, “A number of Nigerians have been employed to understudy expatriates attached to the company.”