The Ministry of Interior has surpassed its revenue target of N600 million from the issuance of Expatriate Quotas in the 2023 fiscal year by raking in N1.195 billion from January to October this year.
However, Minister Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo had explanations to offer on the issuance of the expatriate quotas.
This is because of the belief that it serves as an avenue for stealing jobs from Nigerians in Nigeria by expatriates.
Tunji-Ojo spoke to this issue when he appeared before the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Interior on Wednesday to defend his Ministry’s 2024 Budget.
The Minister, in his presentation to the Joint committee, said in the 2022 and outgoing 2023 fiscal years, the Ministry surpassed its budgetary revenue projections on expatriate quotas and marriages.
He specifically submitted to the committee that in 2023, while N600 million was targeted as revenue to be generated from issuance of expatriate quotas to deserving foreign firms in the country, N1.195 billion had been generated from it as at October 31, 2023.
He said: “Aside from the projected revenue from expatriate quotas that had been surpassed by about N600 million extra, the N380 million projected revenue from marriages has also been surpassed by over N500 million, with N892.774 million realised as at October 31, 2023.”
But the Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Adams Oshiomhole, told the Minister that while it is heartwarming that the Ministry surpassed its revenue targets on issuance of expatriates quotas, the policy is giving room for expatriates to steal jobs meant for Nigerians in Nigeria.
Oshiomhole said: “Your Ministry needs to regulate issuance of the quotas very well as I have on good authority that prisoners from foreign land 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 own qualified engineers to 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 are 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.
“Honourable Minister, this is a serious issue.
“Prisoners are expected to work in their countries if the product or whatever they engage in is meant to be exported.”
But the Minister in his response assured the committee members that the Ministry had already come up with a project for job protection for Nigerians.
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The project, according to Tunji-Ojo, has been codenamed: “Expatriate Employee Network.”
It is primarily aimed to safeguard jobs meant for Nigerians from being stolen by expatriates and also prevent expatriate workers from evading tax payment in Nigeria.