The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has said some state governments were paying foreigners under their employment, five times higher than what they pay their Nigerian counterparts.
Ngige, who raised concerns over the preferential treatment granted foreigners while receiving Chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Dr Muheeba Dankaka on Thursday in Abuja, warned that such practices do not encourage national unity and loyalty.
The minister charged the FCC to use its constitutional mandate to promote national unity and loyalty rather than concentrate efforts only on the public sector, especially in job recruitment, and to ensure equitable distribution of amenities, infrastructure and social services in the country.
He said: “The constitution did not say that you do only cases in the public sector. There are areas we need you to look into, especially where the constitution is silent.
“We have cases where doctors are employed from Egypt, Cuba and Pakistan and they are paid five times what the Nigerian doctor will get if you convert the foreign exchange they use to pay them.
“But in this country, I was here when some of my teachers left from the South East to go and teach in the North East at a time. They left because we had enough down there to export to our brothers. They were paid with our local currency and given some other incentives, which at the end of the day make the economy of those states to be alright.”
Ngige, who urged the FCC to persuade state governments to open up and advertise those jobs so Nigerians who had left the country in search of greener pastures could come back and fill the gap, advised the commission to be revolutionary and do new things, using its broad mandate.
“Our constitution is the Supreme law of the land. And any law made by anybody, whether national and state assembly that is in conflict with the constitution is void. So, you people have a strong mandate from the supreme law of the land. I think you should help us build a new country. A country where we will not be talking about hatred because it is some of these perceptions that cannot even be separated from reality that breeds all the discontent and hate speeches we see.
“We must strive to unite our country. All these North and South, East and West, they are artificial geographical demarcations. One body that can unite our country is the FCC. As you are here now, you are no longer politicians.”
Earlier Chairman of FCC, Dankaka noted that the Commission was established to promote the unity of the country and ensure a strong and indivisible nation, fostering a sense of belonging, fairness, equality and justice.