National Assembly to expand NSITF mandate

Chief Executive of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun

• Ngige pledges support for safe workplace programme 
There are indications that the National Assembly may expand the mandate of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) beyond employees’ compensation scheme to include other forms of social security initiatives.

The Managing Director of NSITF, Adebayo Somefun, who disclosed this at the yearly Safe Workplace Intervention Project (SWIP) award ceremony in Lagos, explained that the expansion of the mandates would empower the Fund to contribute massively to the social investment schemes of the Federal Government.

This comes as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige also pledged to support the Fund’s efforts at ensuring a safe workplace in the country.

Dr Ngige, who was represented by the Director, department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in the federal ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Ifeoma Anyawutaku, described the occupational safety and health management systems audit that was used to score organisations’ OSH compliance levels. It also focuses on continuous improvement in the work environment which effectively put under control accidents and other hazardous exposures related to work.

The Minister added: “The incorporation of the Occupational Safety and Health Audit into the SWIP is therefore, highly commendable as it ahs continued to promote the implementation of the occupational safety and health management systems approach at enterprises level.”

Specifically, Somefun, who is a Lawyer, explained that the bill tagged ‘Amendment of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act Bill, 2018’ is targeted at income support for the poor and the unemployed in the active group age of between 18-35 years as unemployment benefit.

The law also makes provision for all residents in old age or with disabilities to enjoy income security at least at the poverty level through old age benefit or grant for 65 years and above, disability benefit or grant, invalidity benefit or grant, survivors benefit and death grant.

Also, under the proposed law, all children would enjoy income security at least at the poverty level through various family/child benefits or grants aimed at facilitating access to nutrition, education and care.
The NSITF boss also hinted that a collaborative effort between the Fund and Federation of Construction Industries (FOCI) would be consummated soon aimed at reducing fatality in the injury-prone sector.

He explained that the collaboration is expected to move the Fund closer to achieving total compliance of the Employees’ Compensation Scheme especially from the construction sector.

He further added that through interactive fora, FOCI members would be better informed on workplace safety practices and claims procedures to avoid bottlenecks.

Somefun maintained that the NSITF/FOCI collaboration would boost better public image for NSITF and ensure better welfare conditions and compensations for FOCI members.

The NSITF boss also hinted that the recently introduced Electronic Revenue Collection, Claims and Compliance System (ERC3) has reduced employers registration from an average of two days to five minutes and instantly generates 10–digit ECS registration number which is instantly accessible across the Fund.

According to him, the ERC3 also generates traceable and tractable Remita retrieval reference instantly on NSITF EC4 without visiting Remita Portal and that payments and invoices are tied to employers ECS numbers, branches thereby removing accounting and reconciliation headaches.

He further described the ERC3 as a one-stop shop for NSITF operations that supports instant claims notifications and upload of supporting documents; instant access to payment information for claims processing thereby reducing processing time and instant medical vetting information for claims and compensation.

Speaking on the impacts of ECS on injured workers, Abdulshaka Goodluck is from Edo.

The narration of his experience drew tears from the audience as he described untold societal stigma losing an arm in the course of work goes well beyond the physical pains.

Goodluck was working in a steel company when the accident occurred.

He narrated how even his own close relatives and family members fought within their spirit to reconcile with their breadwinner’s one-armed status.

His narration: “When I lost my arm, it became very difficult to walk around. I suddenly became more aware of myself and how every stare by passersby suggested I was the one everyone was looking at. For over three years, I have not been able to travel to my village.

“I thought I had lost all hope until the NSITF came calling. Not only that I was given an artificial arm, I was trained in Abuja on how to use it and now, I feel I have my arm back. I am proud to go everywhere and I am even planning to visit my village very soon. My message is for NSITF is to continue doing the good work and God will continue to strengthen them.”

Mrs. Patient Ani, who is a mother of three lost her husband in an accident while on duty.

She said her story has been completely changed by NSITF intervention.

She explained that through monthly payment of her late husband entitlements, her children are well taken care of and are in good school with nothing to worry about.

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