FG Begins Probe of Expatriate Quota Abuses/Violations

…Co-opt NLC, TUC, NECA, NSE in re-inaugurated task team

By Mohammed Mohammed

The Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has charged the newly re-inaugurated and expanded special task force team to hit the ground running with the objective of probing companies abusing and violating the country’s expatriate quota processes and administration from May 2019 till date.

Aregbesola while constituting the new team instructed that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NUC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), the National Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) be coopted into the team.

Briefing the media at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja on the team’s terms of reference, he urged that the probe take into cognizance infractions from May 2019 till date even though a 14-member task force was first inaugurated in December 2020.

On Nigerian companies’ noncompliance to international best practice, in the expatriate quota administration, the Minister acknowledged and regretted that there have been abuses and gross violations of this laudable policy of government.

He accused companies of employing expatriate staff without quota approval, adding that they do not seek work permit in the first instance from the right quarter in the process.

He added that companies obtain fake permits for their expatriates is also an infraction that is in the open.

He said: “Companies are not committed to grooming Nigerians in their understudies, companies recruiting fewer Nigerians understudies and giving then non-commiserate remunerations.

Companies are involved in Illegal transfer of approval within and among firms and expatriates’ failure to train Nigerians up to the standard of expatriates they are paying.”

He accused expatriates of staying on their jobs for more than seven years, adding that this abuse has led to untoward lopsided and imbalance relationship. This has led to dependence and stunted host’s country personnel and economy which ultimately led to dependency syndrome.

According to him, this lopsidedness has led to resentment, xenophobia and bad blood between foreigners and nationals as according to the Minister this must be avoided by all means.

The committee’s terms of reference include: To audit all documents requirements submitted by all expatriate quota/permit applicants for approval, verify compliance with all statutory returns as stipulated in immigration regulations of 2017 and in the administrative guidelines issued by the ministry, verify compliance by the company with the registration requirement of professional bodies for expatriates practicing in specialised fields in accordance with the law, calculate all fines and penalties due from non-compliance with the terms and conditions and recommend to the Minister through the Permanent Secretary appropriate remediation in line with the law.

In his opening remark, the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Shuaib Belgore, also recalled that the Minister while inaugurating the committee in December 1, 2020 mandated them to put a stop to the inherent abuses in the expatriate quota administration in the country.

He said: “Today is another remarkable day in the activities in the ministry. Today is the re-inauguration of the task force in the administration of this regime on expatriate quota administration.

He added that the national stakeholders met in April 2021 and subsequent conference had captured almost all the issues on expatriate quota administration and articulated the problem and what they and to produce a 2022 revised handbook of expatriate quota administration which matches international best practices.

Thus, requiring expressly charged on the task force in addition there have been additional members to the task force that have been charged because some have been changed due to administrative posting.

The Chairman of the task team, Mr. Bola Ilori, while speaking at the sideline reinforced what the Permanent Secretary said, adding: “The task force we had actually commenced but realized along the line that this is an institution and procedure that are guided by the handbook of the country and we realized that some of the portion of the book have become obsolete in view of the present reality and so we have worked hard to come up with the new workable handbook to cover the process so that the process is governed by proper administration and laws that can be ensured because where there are laws there can be no sin.

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