Sometime three years ago, my field work requirement necessitated that I visit a customer site located in Port Harcourt City. All along, I thought that the site was ‘residential’, not in a company/manufacturing setting. From the airport, my contact person picked me up and in about an-hour we were at the site. The most surprising thing about my trip was that I saw a lot of foreign expatriates working as welders, metal benders, manufacturing chains(like the one on the left). The sight was stinging, surprising and shameful.
About 45-minutes after we arrived at the site, t’was lunchtime. A company bus soon arrived and all the expatriates(men and women) entered and went for lunch.
I thought: ‘so all these foreign men and women were issued working visas, entered planes bound for Nigeria from their respective countries, and are working as chain-welders here?’
If they were engaged in more complex tasks, I wouldn’t have complained, but seeing they were mere welders just put me off. I was at the site for 4-days. One of their foreign supervisors whom I made friends told me his name was Igor and he has been working in Nigeria for 6-years as a welder. I could just do the mathematics of about over 50-expatriates I saw. I had to ask questions and when I found time, I did. I asked my hosts why foreigners were employed as welders for the simplest of welding tasks (a chain), when a whole lot of jobless Nigerians who could be trained, could be paid cheaper and would do better jobs, with even more commitment are walking the streets. He replied: “ah my brother, its a foreign owned company o, so they decide who to employ.” I went around the entire premises of that company and I did not see them doing anything else. They were just welding chains of different shapes and sizes, and packaging them into crates.
I asked my host of it was possible for Nigerians to be exported to foreign countries to work as chain welders in a Nigerian owned company over there, without that other government laying down rules on the kind of professional skill the Nigerian expatriates must possess before being issued working permits. Reciprocity was all that was on my mind.
I read the article below on todays issue of the Nigerian Guardian Newspapers and I remembered my experience above.
NLC tackles foreign firm for hiring expatriate welders
From Willie Etim (Yenagoa)
THE Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Bayelsa State has flayed the hiring of expatriate welders and fitters by the management of Daewoo Nigeria Limited to work at the LNG site in Gbarian, Yenagoa, saying it negates the local content policy in the oil and gas sector.
In a communique issued at the end of its emergency State Executive Council Meeting in Yenagoa and signed by the state NLC Chairman, Mr. Bio Ben Basuo, the union noted that the massive engagement of welders and fitters by the firm was worrisome, especially when the services of such skilled persons could be sourced from the indigenous population.
The communique reads in part, “The congress in session express dismay at the massive importation of expatriates welders/fitters by the management of Daewoo DN54 currently working at the LNG site in Gbarian, Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State.”
Basuo observed that the local content policy is a directive of the Federal Government, implying that companies should reflect a certain percentage of the indigenous population in their areas of operation, but wondered why Daewoo is violating the apex government/NNPC directive on oil and gas in the oil and gas sector.
The NLC therefore called on the Bayelsa State Government to quickly intervene so as to avert a possible crisis situation and create jobs for the teeming jobless youths, especially those that are professionals in the oil and gas sub-sector of the economy.
The communique also condemned the recent transfer and posting of staff of local government areas in the state, where junior staff and non professionals are made to boss were made to head department, while in some cases serving youth corps members were given appointments to head of departments at the expense of serving staff.
The NLC boss therefore advised the Local Government Service Commission to address this injustice in the interest of the service and peaceful industrial harmony.
source: click here
The #6 illegality, according to the COREN, which I blogged about here says: It is illegal to
* Engage expatriate engineering personnel to do engineering work when qualified Nigerian engineering personnel are unemployed and available.
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