A member of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Ports and Harbour, Hon. Ossy Prestige yesterday condemned the management of the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) for discriminating against Nigerians at Eastern Ports.
Prestige, representing Aba North/South Federal Constituency, also accused the ports operators of violating capital flight regulation, claiming that they often repatriated funds generated in local currency without due process.
He made the allegation in a statement he issued after the adhoc committee inspected various seaports across the federation, noting that repatriation of such funds “weakens the Nigerian currency.”
With his vast knowledge of the workings of the country’s seaports, the lawmaker condemned what he called the systematic displacement of Nigerian staff in the junior managerial level with nationals of other African states.
He said: “These Africans come under short term assignment. They are paid in foreign currencies, as well as naira, given accommodation at the camp resulting increased expenditure running into N25 million in six months.
“Prior to now these positions such as shift managers had Nigerians occupying them and doing their jobs effectively at minimal cost. This situation is inimical to national security.”
He berated the management for the increase in flow of foreign nationals into the work force, to the detriment of Nigerians.
According to him, the worrisome inflow has a high recurrent expenditure and a lot of skilled Nigerian workers do not have the opportunity to be employed.
He said bringing a Senegalese “to be in the Human Resources Department of the company is not appropriate at all. How can he function in such as sensitive department?
“What does he know about our labour laws? Presently, all experts are segregated from the foreign nationals at the admin office. And you will talk about the principle of inclusion. Why the hate against Nigerians.
“There is the issue of delay in service delivery despite the purchase of two mobile harbour cranes. Are the cranes really working at maximum capacity? Because most times, these equipment are not fully functional, giving rise to misrepresentation in alleviating waiting time for vessels.”
He said the trend “must be stopped. There is no way foreigners can come into Nigeria and on their own, take such actions that will reduce Nigerians. There are so many people in the labour industry and in the maritime industry we have a lot of experts.
“If they call for application today, I’m sure there would be over five thousand applications from Nigerians who are qualified to do those jobs that the foreigners are doing.”
He said the issue of discrimination against Nigerians would be seriously considered by the committee when considering its final report to be presented to the House.