The Chairman, House of Representative Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe has decried the incompetence and complicity within the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which she said has worsened the trafficking and dehumanizing conditions of Nigerians abroad.
In a statement signed by her Special Assistant on Media, Olamilekan Olusada, the lawmaker, who stated this during the committee’s meeting, said that the Minister of Labour and Employment , Dr. Chris Ngige has turned down the committee’s invitation for the umpteenth time.
She said: It appears that there is a clear incompetence or complicity within the ministry that has led to this compromise in the trafficking and abuse of Nigerians.
“We have invited him five times and he was again represented by a Permanent Secretary, who claims he is new and does not understand the workings and what transpired prior to his engagement, in spite of having signed a recruiters licence earlier this year, at a time when a moratorium had already been placed on such licenses since 2017.”
Akande-Sadipe noted that the House Committee on Diaspora in a bid to find workable solutions to tackle the menace of trafficking and dehumanizing conditions of Nigerians abroad by some local and international syndicates have been holding a series of interagency meetings with stakeholders.
She, however, said it is regrettable that the Minister of Labour and Employment, whose portfolio is at the centre of the whole controversy has refused to honour the committee’s invitation for five consecutive meetings, asserting that investigation shows that licences were issued by the ministry after the moratorium, which has allowed agents to traffic Nigerians, especially girls out of the country.
She added that agents were allowed by the ministry to take Nigerians to Lebanon, a country that does not have a labour pact with Nigeria, adding that
licences were issued to companies who have not complied with CAC / FIRS /NSITF requirements.
“Citizens were allowed to be taken out by agents without the mandatory counselling and orientation. The agents were allowed to operate without complying with the annual reporting requirement on the domestic staff sent abroad, while the Ministry of Labour and Employment has refused to submit documentation requested, in spite of several requests sent to the ministry.
“Where documentation was provided by the ministry, investigations revealed that there were inconsistencies in the report from labour in comparison with FIRS / CAC / NAPTIP/ Justice and NSITF’s documents,” the lawmaker said.
According to the statement, the committee had earlier requested for the ministry’s criteria for pre-qualification of international recruiters and evidence of compliance with the ministry’s pre-qualification criteria which must include copies of national identification number or voter’s card and data page of international passport.
“The committee also requested for the number of licences awarded for international recruiters from 2014 to 2020 and number of renewals for each licence since the same period.The committee also wrote the Ministry of Labour and Employment, demanding evidence of each company’s compliance with statutory registration for doing business with government of Nigeria – indigenous and foreign companies – attach proof of Form C02, C07 and other evidences.
“Copies of memorandum of understanding and articles of association licenced international recruiters from 2014 to 2020; and copies of memorandum of understanding and articles of association licenced international recruiters from 2014 -2020 were also called for by the committee,” the statement said.
Olusada noted that Akande-Sadipe-led committee has sadly not been adequately furnished with the necessary information, saying: “It is sad that Nigeria has to witness such a great disregard for the life of her citizens by an MDA of the Nigerian government through their acts which is encouraging human trafficking.”
The committee has threatened to table the matter at plenary, noting that the disdain for the lives of Nigerians in very dire circumstances abroad must stop.