Lawmakers bemoan absence of social security framework

Onyewuchi Ezenwa

Onyewuchi Ezenwa

• Govt raises team on NSITF amendment law

The delay in signing of the Social Security Bill into law is a huge setback in the implementation process of social security programmes in the country, Chairman, House of Representatives committee on Labour and Employment, Honourable Onyewuchi Ezenwa has said.

Speaking when the committee paid an official visit to the corporate headquarters of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in Abuja, members of the committee said there is need to revisit the bill and unravel why it was not assented to by immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan.

Indeed, the 7th National Assembly had passed the Social Security Bill sponsored by the NSITF at the twilight of the last administration.However, the former President did not sign the Bill into law before he left office in 2015.

Some of the committee members voiced their concerns regarding the long delay in signing the Bill into law as they asserted that this action was a big setback to the implementation of the Social Security programme of the present administration.

A member of the committee, Ayi Ekpenyong, submitted that the NSITF was in the proper place and shape to handle the implementation of the nation’s social security programmes while noting that the planned disbursement of N5, 000 to some category of Nigerians was not ‘properly domiciled’ in its present position, saying the implementation of the scheme ought to have been done by the NSITF.

The committee pledged to put the Social Security in the right perspective to enable the Fund administer the major mandates as stipulated by law, while promising further collaboration to move the Fund to enviable heights during their tenure.

But providing an insight into the possible reasons the bill was not assented to by former President Jonathan, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Dr Clement Illoh, explained that the previous administration did not assent to the Social Security Bill passed by the 7th National Assembly because of the challenge of funding.

However, Illoh, who himself a member of the NSITF Board, further disclosed that a technical committee had been set up by the ministry to further work on the NSITF amendment Bill.

He hinted that there would be a public hearing in next month (February) on the NSITF Amendment Bill, which is currently on the floor of the House of Representatives.

He further told the committee that the challenges facing NSITF were non-compliance by many organisations and government agencies, stringent policies and legislations as well as capacity building.

Dr Illoh craved the indulgence of the committee to review the statute backing the Fund, disclosing that the NSITF being a member of the International Social Security Association (ISSA), was implementing only the Employees’ Compensation Scheme (ECS), which is only one of the 12 social security components.

Earlier in his remark, the Acting Managing Director of NSITF, Ismail Agaka, had indicated that the Fund has been collaborating with the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on workplace safety awareness campaign to further reduce the incidences of workplace accidents.

He told the House Committee that NSITF became saddled with the responsibility of implementing the ECS by the Employees’ Compensation Act (ECA) 2010 which repealed the Workmen’s Compensation Act.

He further disclosed that the Fund would soon embark on a nationwide awareness campaign in its determination to take NSITF to the doorsteps of all employers, employees and Nigerians in general.He hinted that the Fund presently has a staff strength of over 4, 000 spread across its 11 regional offices and 55 branches nationwide.

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