The Federal Government has assured the Niger Delta Indigenous Artisans Association (NDIAAN) that it will be engaged in the execution of projects in the region.
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Pastor Usain Uguru Usain, gave the assurance in Abuja on Friday, when he received, in his office, members of the association, led by the National Presidentm Mr Eminence Tiyeinabeso.
Usain said government would address issues that led to the protest by Niger Delta artisans, over their alleged exclusion from projects and unwholesome practices by expatriates in the area.
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“Let us know the companies that are culpable in what you are alleging and state some of those instances of bringing artisans from outside.
“Because our immigration law says no matter the level of skill required, as you bring an expatriate, there should be a Nigerian understudying, so that at the end of two years the Nigerian should be able to qualify in that skill.
“So you go and put down your grievance and let us know whatever materials we need to have.
“If you do it, you can have an attachment of three or four copies so that I can forward one to the Minister of Labour with my covering note and others to the relevant agencies.’’
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The minister promised to meet with his labour counterpart and other relevant agencies to address expatriates’ consistent violation of MoUs on local laws and indigenous artisans.
This, he said, was to ensure that indigenes are carried along in execution of projects located in their regions, by empowering them with jobs, strengthening their skills and keeping them busy.
According to him, if the issue is not addressed appropriately, there will be continuous destruction of the socio-economic structures of the region by people bent on sabotaging smooth operations in the area.
Earlier, Tiyeinabeso informed the minister that a lot of projects were being executed in the region without the involvement of indigenous artisans.
Tiyeinabeso alleged that most companies working in the region bring in foreign artisans to do jobs that should be undertaken by indigenous artisans.
He said that claims by the defaulting companies that indigenes did not have the technical knowhow were false, adding that the ex-agitators had acquired different skills through the amnesty programme.
He said in spite of the knowledge acquired, the artisans were still being excluded from participating in projects.
“I ask a question: why will they come with a Philippine that is an excavator operator? what has he learnt?
“For your information, I have worked with them for 18 good years and I can tell you that 90 per cent of these foreigners that come to do this excavation for us are ex-convicts.
“They learnt their trade in the prison while serving their term, and now they have what to do while my brothers are just agitators looking for what to do.’’
Tiyeinabeso said the action of the expatriates was a violation of the MoUs signed.
He, therefore, appealed to the minister to address the issues at stake.