The federal government had set its sights on a transformative endeavor, a plan both bold and ambitious, designed to draw expatriates into its revenue web.
With an unwavering commitment to financing critical infrastructure projects across the nation, the government had concocted a revenue system that stood poised to rewrite the financial playbook.
In this groundbreaking effort, the Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service , NIS , were the architects of change, and they were ready to unveil their vision.
The blueprint for this revenue system was shrouded in secrecy, a well-guarded treasure chest of innovation. It wasn’t just another layer of taxes to burden expatriates working in the country; it was a novel approach, a paradigm shift in resource generation.
Its primary target: the 50,000-strong expatriate community currently contributing $617 million annually. By 2040, official projections hinted at a remarkable leap to $1.467 billion, with an expatriate workforce of approximately 81,400. It was a vision to harness untapped potential and pave the way for a brighter future.
But this plan was not just about inflating the government’s coffers; it carried the promise of narrowing the wage gap between expatriates and their Nigerian counterparts.
Nigerian nationals, despite constituting 59% of the workforce, had only been claiming less than 45% of total wages. The culprit was the wage gap, a chasm that had persisted for far too long.
The objective was to alter this narrative. By 2024, the average salary of expatriates would become less than 45% higher than their basic salary, significantly reducing the wage disparity and bolstering the earnings of Nigerian nationals.
This would unleash waves of change across all sectors, fueling nationalization and profitability-driven growth.
The revenue to be gleaned from this innovative system would be harvested from expatriates across critical sectors: construction, telecommunications, healthcare, oil and gas, among others.
All within the provisions of the companies’ Expatriates Quota. This financial influx would be judiciously funneled into vital infrastructure development projects, painting a brighter future for Nigeria.
The urgency for such a scheme was underlined by the call of former President Muhammadu Buhari, who, in 2021, emphasized the need for $1.5 trillion over a decade to bridge the nation’s infrastructure gap. This colossal amount amounted to $150 billion per annum, a sum that could not be ignored.
The Ministry of Interior and the Nigeria Immigration Service would play pivotal roles in this grand endeavor. The Ministry would provide comprehensive data on quotas granted to companies and authorize the NIS to provide information on quota utilization to track expatriate numbers.
The NIS, under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Interior, would be the gatekeeper of this intricate system, responsible for a myriad of tasks, including the issuance of travel documents, residence permits, border surveillance, and enforcement of laws.
Given that this project would primarily run on Public Private Partnership, the private sector component would be responsible for gathering the necessary data. This would encompass details on companies with Expatriate Quotas, the status of these quotas, and the individuals occupying them, along with their entry and renewal dates.
In doing so, they would ensure compliance and facilitate the efficient operation of the system.
The ripple effect of these measures was anticipated to be a boon for Nigeria, curbing the exodus of talent abroad and bolstering the local job market. The tide of brain drain would recede, as these initiatives promised a new dawn, characterized by fairness, unity, and prosperity for all.