The House of Representatives sought tougher measures on Thursday to restrict the employment of foreign nationals by firms or organisations in the country.
A bill to “restrict” the issuance of work permits to foreigners by the Federal Government passed second reading at the House.
The bill, which was sponsored by the Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, was the House’s response to how to address the growing unemployment in the country.
The bill, an amendment to the Immigration Act, 2015, raised the penalty for violation from the extant N1m to N2m.
In addition, it provided that foreigners would be considered for a job only when it was proven that no Nigerian possessed the requisite qualifications for the job.
In October last year, the House had also passed a resolution urging the government to declare “state of emergency” in the labour market in the country.
Defending the latest bill, Gbajabiamila said it was a further step taken by the legislature to find solutions to unemployment.
He gave details of the provisions of the bill, “Consequently, Sections 36 is being amended basically to further restrict and regulate employment of foreign nationals/expatriates and to provide for stiffer punishment for violators of the provisions of the Act.
“Section 36 provides for residence and employment of foreign nationals in Nigeria.
‘Section 36 (1). No person other than a citizen of Nigeria shall accept employment (not being employment with the federal, state of local governments) without the consent in writing of the Comptroller-General of Immigration: or
‘On his own account or in partnership with any other person, practice a profession or establish or take over any trade or business whatsoever or register or take over any company with limited liability for any such purpose without the consent in writing given on such by or on behalf of such persons as the Minister may prescribe.’
“Section 36 (2) ‘Any person desirous of entering Nigeria for any of the purposes in sub-section (1) of this section, shall produce the consent of the Comptroller-General of Immigration to an immigration officer; and the failure to do so shall be an offence, and any person who commits such an offence shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N1m or deportation or both as a prohibited immigrant.’
“Sub-section 2 above is being amended to ensure that any foreign nationals seeking employment in Nigeria must undertake in a manner prescribed by the Comptroller-General of Immigration to comply with the provisions of section 40 of the Act.
“Section 38 is also being amended by deleting the existing sub-sections 3, 4,5 and 5 and creating new sub-sections 3,4,5, and 6, which provide that before any person of foreign national is employed, it must be ascertained that no Nigerian is qualified and available to take up the job.
“This is in line with the state of emergency, which the unemployment motion demands from the federal government to declare.
“Although, the comptroller-general reserves the right to exempt any one from this provision and that right must be exercised in the interest of Nigeria.
“Penalty for violators is raised from N1m to N2m.”