Experts have stated that the rising number of expatriates in the country may have an adverse impact on the economy.

They claimed that foreign workers’ dominance may cause job competition and resource strain, stressing that local workforce protection was crucial for sustainable growth.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, the former President of the Association of Outsourcing Professionals of Nigeria, Dr Obiora Madu, “The growing number of foreign workers poses economic risks, and other countries are implementing restrictions. The influx of foreign workers is dangerous to the economy, and other countries are not allowing it and I don’t see why we should.”

He explained that Nigeria has a local content policy, overseen by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, in place to regulate the entry of foreign workers.

According to him, the law aims to train and replace expatriates with Nigerian citizens in industries like oil and gas.

He claimed that the influx of Indian and Chinese companies in Nigeria had rapidly expanded their presence, bringing in relatives and personnel for various tasks.

“Proper policy implementation and communication with the government are crucial. Corruption must be avoided to prevent threats to the economy,” Madu advised.

In the same vein, a Human Resources Consultant, Tolu Adedayo, said, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board was responsible for enforcing a local content law that focuses on enhancing training opportunities for Nigerians, particularly in the oil and gas industry.

According to him, the legislation also stipulates predetermined quotas for the participation of indigenous engineers in particular endeavours.

“Nevertheless, there have been observations made about the insufficient calibre and efficacy of the training initiatives provided to local engineers and Nigerian professionals in recent periods.

“Limited training results in ongoing reliance on expatriates for specific projects. Inadequate enforcement of local content laws is evident, especially in the oil and gas sector, hampering knowledge sharing. When expatriates depart, essential expertise leaves with them, obstructing knowledge transfer to local staff,” he argued.

He stated that in cases where certain skills are required, it becomes necessary to recruit expatriates due to a shortage of qualified local workers to fulfil those positions.

He highlighted the concerning trend of highly skilled Nigerian workers, especially in the oil and gas industry, seeking opportunities overseas.

An HR expert, who did not want his name mentioned, faulted the claim that a lack of skilled manpower in the country to handle certain jobs was the cause of the growing number of foreign workers in the country.

“Another point often raised is the shortage of skilled artisans, which is also untrue,” he maintained.

According to him, a case in point is the Dangote Refinery, which employed thousands of Indian and Asian workers, despite the significant financial support it received from the Federal Government.

He said many of the artisans engaged in that project were foreign workers.

He asserted, “The rationale given for hiring foreign workers was the supposed scarcity of local expertise, but Nigerian workers have historically been involved in the construction of refineries and petrochemical companies in the country.

“The Petroleum Training Institute in Warri trains a lot of artisans and professionals, and they are there in their thousands. You will find out that people are only doing this to move out foreign exchange to trick Nigerians and the government, that is the truth and that is what most of them do.”

Meanwhile, he said there was a gang up by a few greedy capitalists who keep acting with some government institutions to sabotage the country’s economy.

“At the end of the day, Nigeria loses, Nigerian workers lose, the economy loses, and the society loses in the long run.

“In Nigeria, a few greedy capitalists collude with corrupt officials from the Ministry of Labour and Immigration. They pay bribes to secure licenses and work permits for foreign workers, even those lacking skills. As a result, Nigerians end up training these foreigners, eventually losing their jobs to them. The issue persists despite labour unions’ efforts to address it,” he noted.

The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, contrary to the perception of a surge in expatriate workers in Nigeria, there was evidence that points to a different trend.

“Take the aviation industry, for instance, in the past; approximately 70 per cent of pilots in Nigeria were foreigners.

“Around 90 per cent of Nigeria’s flights are now operated by Nigerian pilots, underscoring a broader decrease in dependence on expatriate workers across different sectors,” he stated.

He believed that it was much more logical for individuals to hire Nigerians unless there is a severe shortage of expertise in very exceptional situations.

“Maybe in the telecommunication sector, but generally my knowledge of the situation is that we have improved significantly over time in terms of the dominance of expatriates in some sectors of the economy,” he remarked.

He stated further said he was concerned that indigenous construction firms and engineers are not receiving enough major contracts and patronage, hindering their ability to improve and deliver better results.

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