Akwa Ibom govt rejects bill compelling firms to hire indigenes

Governor Udom Emmanuel during the swearing-in of Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem as the Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, SSG.

The governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel, may have rejected a bill passed by the state House of Assembly which seeks to force companies to hire indigenes of the state.

The state attorney general said the bill, if passed, would be “unenforceable”.

The bill was passed in June last year.

It stated that companies with at least 20 employees and more in the state must hire at least 10 per cent of their senior workers and 70 per cent of junior workers from among the indigenes of the state.

The bill, which empowered the state government to carry out personnel audit in private firms, prescribed fines for non-compliance.

It also stated that compliance would be a major criterion for contract award and issuance of license and permit by the state government.

The Speaker of the assembly, Onofiok Luke, had said the job market in the state must be regulated to accommodate the youth.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the state Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, on what has become of the bill, Mr Nwoko said such a bill, if passed into law, would not be enforceable.

“If it were passed since last year, I may have advised the governor on it,” Mr Nwoko told PREMIUM TIMES, Monday.

“The provisions of the bill would be against the Constitution of Nigeria because what it is going to create is that it is going to discriminate against Nigerians on grounds of where they come from.

“If a company wants to advertise a job opportunity it would now be saying don’t apply for it except you are from Akwa Ibom.

“Once you engineer any discriminatory policy against any other Nigerian, no matter where he comes from, it becomes a head-on collision with the Constitution and it is dead on arrival.

“The Akwa Ibom House of Assembly cannot enact a law that would create discrimination against Nigerians,” the commissioner said.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Chairman, House of Assembly Committee on Information, Ime Okon, he said he needed to cross-check with the clerk of the assembly if the bill was returned to the House by the governor.

The Clerk of the assembly, Mandu Umoren, told PREMIUM TIMES she could not speak on the bill and referred the reporter back to the chairman, committee on information, Mr. Okon.

Akwa Ibom is among the states with the highest unemployment rates in the country, despite being one of Nigeria’s richest states because of the oil drilled in the state.

Mr Emmanuel, who has just won re-election for a second term as governor, has pushed efforts to industrialise the state with the hope of providing business and job opportunities for the growing population.

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