Ministry of Interior earns N1.19bn from expatriate quotas

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The National Assembly, through its joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Interior, tackled the Ministry of Interior on issuance of the expatriate quotas, which it believed, served as an avenue for stealing jobs from Nigerians by expatriates.

The merits and demerits of issuance of the expatriate quotas permit by the Ministry of Interior to deserving foreign companies came to the fore when the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday, to defend the ministry’s budget.

Tunji-Ojo, in his presentation, said the interior ministry surpassed its N600m budgetary target as it raked in N1.195bn by October.

The minister said the ministry leveraged the issuance of expatriate quotas to boost its revenue.

Tunji-Ojo said, “Aside from the projected revenue from expatriate quotas that had been surpassed by about N600m extra, the N380m projected revenue from marriage, has also been surpassed by over N500m with N892.7m realised as of October 31, 2023.”

But the Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Adams Oshiomhole ( APC Edo North ), told the minister that while it was heartwarming that the ministry surpassed its revenue targets on issuance of expatriates quotas, the policy was giving room for expatriates to steal jobs meant for Nigerians in the country.

Oshiomhole said, “Your ministry needs to regulate the issuance of the quotas very well as I have it on good authority that prisoners from foreign land are working in Nigeria as construction workers.

“This is even different from the agelong 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.

“Honourable minister, 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.”

But the minister, in his response, assured the committee that the ministry had already developed a project for job protection for Nigerians.

The project according to him, is the Expatriate Employee Network primarily aimed to safeguard jobs meant for Nigerians from being stolen by expatriates and also prevent expatriate workers from evading tax payment in Nigeria.