So I made a conscious visit to major foreign companies in Lagos and Abuja to see for myself the working conditions of people there. Not for any reason though but to have concrete data on chit-chats that I may have heard around. For obvious purposes, I will not mention the names of these companies but I did pick up something from my covert visit; there is a huge financial gap between the foreigners and the locals.
Before I continue with the content of my surveillance, I have to personally point out; in a country like Nigeria, education, and handwork put you at the forefront. It’s even more advantageous when you possess the two.
Walking into an Indian-owned company in Lagos, I noticed a sea of workers at the loading dock, artfully moving boxes and equipment from one terminal to another. I asked one of the workers where the administrative workers were and he said “dem go come down come see us later. Nobody dey near that place”. Before now I would have laughed at such nonsense but because I had a pre-informed view of what I was coming to, I just nodded and looked up at the office which the worker pointed.
Allow me to enlighten you on the chit-chats that prompted my clandestine mission. Many casual workers believe that they are not afforded a platform to develop on the job. Many have used the word “exploited” to explain their redundancy brought about by foreign nationals. Many also say foreign nationals head major administrative departments and in most cases are less qualified than the locals. This begs the question, what do the foreigners have to offer that our locals cannot? Is it Education or handiwork? But even education has standards too since lately it seems a foreign education is superior to our Nigerian education.
In another German-owned investment company in Abuja, I had the opportunity of discussing with an assistant head of a department. In our backroom discussions, he told me that he had dedicated his life to the organization having started as an intern, worked his way up while also studying. He further mentioned that a couple of years ago, he was due for a promotion to head his department but got the shocker of his life when it was announced that an expert from Germany was to come to head the department. He reiterated that he obviously had all the expertise and education that was needed for the role but he was somehow left out.
Is there an issue here? Is this now a problem? Or is this the natural order of things?
The Federal Government has maintained a friendly attitude toward international investors, encouraging them to invest in Nigeria’s rising economy’s green and brown fields.
The government has also made a concerted effort to put policies and initiatives in place to encourage and streamline the ease of doing business in Nigeria as well as eliminating established roadblocks and “bottlenecks” that obstruct foreign investors’ ability to conduct business in Nigeria smoothly. These concerted efforts are primarily responsible for the progress in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking, moving 15 spots up in October 2019.
One of the functions of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission as established by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act of 1995 is to evaluate the impact of the Commission in investments in Nigeria and make appropriate recommendations. One of the major investments a foreign company should invest in is our human resource. Have they failed in doing this?
In a recent study, nigerianfinder.com provided a list of 50 foreign companies with offices in Nigeria. Nigeria undoubtedly has created an atmosphere to attract international businesses and investors into the country and this in turn promoted the country’s overall output. There is more to do when it comes to integrating Nigerians into the administrative work-force of these international corporations.
There have been reports from small talks on how foreign workers are even paid in their currencies which most times is more than what Nigerians receive. Ndidi, who is an administrative staff in a Chinese company in Lagos, informed me that a colleague of hers who is a Chinese national receives $8,000 (eight thousand dollars) per month while she gets N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira) monthly. $8,000 when converted to naira is 3,048,240.00 (three million, forty-eight thousand, and two hundred and forty naira). N100,000 converted to dollars is $262 (two hundred and sixty two dollars). Some may have expressed shock at this but I am laughing right now as I write this.
Worse even is how these international corporations expect a high level of gratitude from Nigerians who work in their corporations. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and is also a pretty amazing human trait BUT should I thank you for exploiting me? Should I bow down in gratitude for not acknowledging my input?
I think there is a moral obligation from these foreign nationals to trust, respect, and acknowledge the value of Nigerians in Nigeria. I can understand that education, handwork, technical know-how and experience can create a divide in organizational levels but if a Nigerian ticks all the boxes, why outsource? Is this something the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and other key welfare stakeholders should look into? Maybe it should.
As always, this is my opinion.