• Friday, February 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

N1.2bn bonanza from expat quotas raises concerns about job losses for Nigerians

Who really is Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo?

The Ministry of Interior has exceeded its budgetary expectations by raking in N1.195 billion from the issuance of expatriate quotas from January to October this year, surpassing the targeted N600 million for the 2023 fiscal year.

However, this success has not shielded the ministry from scrutiny, as the National Assembly’s joint committee on Interior, comprising members from the Senate and House of Representatives, questioned the minister about the alleged impact of expatriate quotas on employment opportunities for Nigerians.

The committee expressed concerns that the policy might facilitate the displacement of local workers by expatriates during the budget defence session with Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of the Interior.

He defended the ministry’s financial performance, highlighting that the revenue generated from expatriate quotas exceeded projections by a substantial N600 million.

Additionally, he disclosed that the projected revenue from marriage, set at N380 million, had also been surpassed, reaching N892.774 million as of October 31, 2023.

Read also Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo: Understanding the ‘reformist’ vision at the Ministry of Interior

However, Adams Oshiomhole, Chairman of the joint committee, raised concerns about potential abuse of the expatriate quota policy, alleging that foreign prisoners were working as construction workers in Nigeria.

Oshiomhole emphasized the need for effective regulation to prevent expatriates from taking jobs meant for Nigerian citizens and urged the ministry to address the issue promptly.

” Your Ministry needs to regulate the issuance of the quotas. I have good authority that prisoners from foreign lands are working in Nigeria as construction workers.

This is even different from the age-long fraud the oil companies have been carrying out in the country through the policy of expatriate quotas by making our qualified engineers work under foreign technicians.

“Many non-Nigerians are in the country, some of them live inside containers. I even believe and dare say that there are foreign prisoners who are working in Nigeria. They were shipped to our country to serve their prison terms. They were being paid according to their country’s minimum wage by the construction industry that brought them. I don’t want to mention the company’s name, but if I am provoked, I will mention them,” Oshiomhole said.

“This is a serious issue; prisoners are not expected to work in their countries if the product or whatever they engage in is meant to be exported”, he stressed.

In response, Tunji-Ojo informed the committee that the ministry is implementing the Expatriate Employee Network (EEN) project.

The initiative aims to safeguard jobs for Nigerians, prevent tax evasion by expatriate workers, and address the committee’s concerns about the alleged employment of foreign prisoners in the construction industry.