Stories by Victor Ahiuma-Young
ON October 3, 2017, National Union of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employees, NUFBTE, wrote to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, complaining over alleged arbitrary influx of expatriates into Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC and bottles of all brands of Coca-Cola products in Nigeria.
In the said letter, the union recalled similar letters in 2009, 2012, and 2015 over expatriate quota abuse, lamenting that despite the intervention of the Ministry, NBC remained unperturbed and undaunted.
The NBC is just one example of multinational companies in food and beverage, maritime, chemical and non-metallic, construction, oil and gas, telecommunications, aviation, and manufacturing sectors, where arbitrary influx of expatriates and quota abuse have been dominant and messy over the years.
Previous attempts by government to address this menace, including Nigeria Local Content and Cabotage laws, remained fruitless because of several reasons, including lack of political will to implement the laws, corruption and unpatriotic Nigerian collaborators.
In a new drive to address this menace, which is a contributor to the growing employment crisis in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, recently signed an “Executive Order,” forbidding foreigners from taking jobs that Nigerians can do.
This singular act, if implemented with all sincerity of purpose, has a potential of streamlining expariate employment in Nigeria’s private sector.
President Buhari has done one side of the needful by signing the executive order. The other side is implementation.
The ball is now in the court of Nigerians, especially workers and their unions, to see that this laudable order achieve its objectives.
The success of this order essentially depends on its implementation without fear or favour. The beginning of its effective implementation lies with every worker, where there is no union. And everywhere there is a union, the worker and the union should become whistle blowers to expose any organisation that breaches the Executive Order. When breaches are exposed, organs of government saddled with the responsibility of addressing such issues are left in the public court.
Equally, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Ministry of Interior or Internal Affairs, Immigration among others, have roles to play in the effective implementation of the Executive Order.
This order must not go the way of similar orders or law. Whatever sanction that should be meted to companies that breach the order, should be extended to their Nigerian collaborators without fear or favour, irrespective of the position in the society.