By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has addressed the fears that the proposed amendment to the Immigration Act would discriminate against expatriate workers, stating that it would rather ensure that sectors where Nigerians are skilled are not taken over by foreigners.
The intention, he explained, is to ensure that the hospitality of the Nigerian government is not exploited by taking away jobs that ordinarily should be available to Nigerian workers, whether skilled or unskilled.
Gbajabiamila said this in a position paper to clarify some salient issues raised over the proposed amendment to the Immigration Act which passed through second reading in the House last week.
“From Phillipino nannies, artisans and tillers to pilots and mariners, to bank MDs and oil workers. Most of our top hotels in Nigeria are managed by foreigners, yet we have Nigerians who are professionally qualified to do same. It is not unusual and is even normal to see Chinese labourers on construction sites. Many have even said (though I find it difficult to believe) that prisoners are brought from other countries to come and work in Nigeria,” he said.
He also described as misplaced, fears that the amendment negates the policies of free trade and would discourage foreign investors.
He explained that the bill seeks to ensure that two conditions must be fulfilled before a company can obtain expatriate quota.
“There must be no Nigerian qualified in the field or…if there is any, he or she must be unwilling or unavailable to do the job,” he said, adding that Nigerians must be given the right of first refusal.
Gbajabiamila said the proposed amendment seeks implementation against all sectors of national economy.