4th October, 2011
The Lagos State House of Assembly, southwest Nigeria, has summoned the management of Airtel, a telecommunications company with headquarters in the state, to explain the rationale behind the alleged sack of 1000 staff, who are based in the state.
The management of the telecommunication giant will appear on 11 October to explain the reason behind the allegation that some staff were sacked and replaced with Indians.
Airtel is said to have retrenched at least 3000 staff among whom 1000 are resident in Lagos state.
The lawmakers said their findings showed that apart from the mass sack, the few that were retained had their salaries slashed by about 70 per cent.
Some of them had their salaries cut from N100, 000 to between N27, 000 and N30, 000 as against the amount that is being paid the expatriates that were used to replace them.
The lawmakers took the decision to invite the Airtel management after a member of the House, Olarenwaju Oshun, drew the attention of his colleagues to the incident.
According to him, the retrenchment of the staff is taking place at a time when the labour market is saturated with unemployed graduates.
He added that the he was particular about the number that was affected in the state and pleaded with his colleagues to intervene on their behalf since they were duly elected to represent everyone in the state irrespective of their ethnic background.
Several lawmakers reacted to the issue with some raising alarm that most Nigerian jobs have been taken over by foreigners thereby rendering citizens of the country jobless and making them second class citizens in their own country.
One of the lawmakers, Bisi Yusuf, reminded the House that such mass retrenchment has a negative multiplier effect on the people and the state.
He explained that each of the 1000 staff that was sacked could have at least five dependants and if this is multiplied, it means that about 5,000 people have been rendered hopeless in the state.
He was also further provoked by the allegation that those sacked were replaced by Indians.
He therefore urged the House to ensure that something urgent was done to stem the effect of such action by the telecommunication company owned by Indian investors.
His colleagues, Bolaji Yusuf Ayinla, in his reaction, described it as a sad development, adding that he was surprised that the Minister in charge of Labour in the country had continued to look the other way while such actions are taken by companies owned by expatriates in the country.
In her reaction, Adefunmilayo Tejuosho, said it is high time Nigerians began to take actions against those who took them for granted.
According to her, this singular action is enough for Nigerians to boycott patronage of Airtel till the decision is reversed in favour of Nigerians.
The Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, who was very angry that the telecommunications company carried out the sack despite being given license and enabling environment by the country to operate, said it was disheartening the way Nigerians are treated by telecommunication companies in country.
Ikuforiji said Nigeria is the only country with the highest tariff, yet the companies announce huge profits every quarter.
The Speaker also said it is difficult for anyone in the country to make calls that would last for five minutes without being interrupted by either drop calls or any other system error.
He said until Nigerians decide to love themselves and act on behalf of others, things would not work fine for the country as those who are supposed to regulate the activities of the companies are always busy looking the other way when such issues arise.
While some lawmakers doubted that the company would honour the invitation, others including the Speaker said the company does not have a choice but to appear before the House and that if it failed, to do so, the House would decide on the next line of action to take on the issue.
By Eromosele Ebhomele