The alleged incompetence and complicity of the the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, which has worsened the trafficking and dehumanizing conditions of Nigerians abroad, has been decried by the Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe.
Hon. Akande-Sadipe said this recently during the Committee’s meeting, noting that the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, has turned down the Committee’s invitation for the umpteenth time.
In a release by her Special Assistant on Media, Olamilekan Olusada, she said that “it appears that there is a clear incompetence or complicity within the ministry which has led to this compromise in the trafficking and abuse of Nigeria citizens.
“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 added that “the House Committee on Diaspora, in a bid to find workable solutions to tackle the menace of trafficking and the dehumanizing of Nigerians abroad by some local and international syndicates, have been holding a series of inter-agency meetings with stakeholders, but regrettably the Minister of Labour, whose portfolio is at the centre of the whole controversy, has refused to honour the committee’s invitation for five consecutive times.”
The release further asserted that investigation shows that licences were issued by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity after the moratorium, allowing agents to traffic girls out of Nigeria, adding that agents were allowed by the Labour and productivity Ministry to take Nigerians to Lebanon, a country which does not have a labour pact with Nigeria.
The statement further alleged that licences were issued to companies which have not complied with CAC/FIRS/NSITF requirements, noting that citizens were allowed to be taken out by agents without the mandatory counselling and orientation.
The ministry was also accused of allowing agents to operate without complying with the annual reporting requirement on the domestic staff sent abroad, even as the ministry was also accused of refusing to submit documentation requested, in spite of several requests sent to the it.
And where documentations were provided by the ministry, they were inconsistent with FIRS/CAC/NAPTIP/Justice Ministry and NSITF’s documents.
The statement disclosed that the House Committee had earlier requested for the Ministry of Labour’s criteria for prequalification of international recruiters and evidence of compliance with the ministry’s pre-qualification criteria, which must include copies of National Identification Numbe, NINr or Voter Card and data page of International Passport.
The Akande-Sadipe led Committee also requested for number of licence awards for international recruiters from 2014 to 2020; and number of renewals for each licence within the same period; even as the committee also demanded evidence of each company’s compliance with statutory registration for doing business with Nigerian government.
This was just as copies of memorandum of understanding, MoU, and articles of association of licenced international recruiters from 2014 to 2020 were also requested from the ministry by the committee.
Olusada noted that the Akande-Sadipe-led committee has sadly not been adequately equipped with this necessary information, saying, “It is sad that Nigeria has to witness such a great disregard for the life of Nigerian citizens by a ministry of the Nigerian Government through its acts which is encouraging human trafficking.
Meanwhile, the committee has threatened to escalate the matter and bring it up at the plenary, noting that the disdain for the lives of Nigerians in very dire circumstances abroad must stop.