Ajaokuta: House Invites Adeosun, Fayemi to Sectoral Debate

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• Adopts report regulating issuance of work permit to foreigners

By James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives will next Thursday resume its sectoral debates with special focus on the steel sector, particularly on how to revive the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State.

House Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, recently made an unprecedented visit alongside members of the lower chamber to the steel company earlier this month to seek ways of completing the firm, seen as pivotal to the country’s industrialisation efforts, but neglected by successive administrations. 

However, top players in the sector and major stakeholders are expected to attend the sectoral debate which will be televised live from 11a.m to 3p.m, including ministers, top government bureaucrats, members of the Ajaokuta community, experts and other stakeholders.

Notably, the minister of Solid Minerals, Mines Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi;  his State counterpart, Hon. Bawa Bwari; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Ohinoyi of Ebira land, Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, Chairman of Ajaokuta Local Government Area, representatives of workers’ union, experts in mines and steel as well as other stakeholders will be present in the House chamber.

The session will also be broadcast live on television and streamed live via House of Representatives Facebook page and YouTube channel between 11a.m. to 3p.m., according to a statement by the Speaker’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Hassan Turaki.

Sectoral Debate is an initiative of the eighth House of Representatives encapsulated in the Legislative Agenda introduced by Dogara with the aim of reviving Nigeria’s economy.

The first phase of the debates  was held in May 2016 and was attended by ministers in the chambers of the House with a view  to making  them more efficient and effective.

Meanwhile, the lower chamber has adopted a report of its committee on Interior seeking amendments to the Immigration Act, 2015. 

The adoption followed consideration of the report by lawmakers at the plenary session of the House presided by the Deputy Speaker, Mr. Lasun Yussuff. 

The proposed law, when signed by the president, will restrict Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) from issuing Work Permit to foreign expatriates in fields where Nigerian citizens have requisite knowledge and skills. 

Each of the clauses in the report got the nod of the House and forwarded to the Senate for concurrence.

The sponsor of the bill and Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Olanrewaju Smart, yesterday said the adoption of the report by the House  which coincided with Executive Order 5 on local content signed by President Muhammadu  Buhari would give legal strength to the intentions of the president.

Gbajabiamila said:”This Immigration Act, 2015 Amendment Bill I sponsored in July 2016 preceded the Executive Order made by President Buhari on similar matter on February 5, 2018, and will considerably provide legal teeth to ensure implementation of the presidential order beyond tenure of the current president.”

He further hinted that the amendments to the Immigration Act, 2015, was the House’s response to the growing unemployment in the country.

He said: “This is a further step taken by the legislature to find solutions to unemployment. In the country line with the state of emergency, which the House demands from the federal government.”

According to the report, Section 38 of the principal Act is amended by deleting the existing sub-section (4) (5) (6) and creating new sub-sections to provide strict measures to regulate influx of foreigners in the labour market against the Nigerian interest. 

“Notwithstanding any other provision in this section, with this bill or in any other enactment, no foreign National shall be granted a Work Permit in Nigeria unless the employer(s) has shown to the Comptroller General of Immigration that he has sought applications from qualified Nigerians in that same position for which the foreign national/expatriate is being employed and no Nigerian possesses the requisite knowledge or is willing to work in that area of specialisation or interest,” he said.

In addition, the House also raised the penalty for violation from 1 million to 2 million.