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Govt expands social security mandate of NSITF


• Unemployed, aged to get social safety net

THE Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) is now saddled with the responsibility of providing social security to the aged and unemployed in addition to the implementation of Employee Compensation scheme.

   The new amendment, which was passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly on the 14th January 2015, would be presented to President Goodluck Jonathan for assent.

    In her reaction to the expanded mandate, the Chairman, Board of Directors, NSITF, Ngozi Olejeme, credited the step to the unrelenting effort of President Jonathan to improve welfare of workers and vulnerable groups.

    She said: “The Board would like to extend its appreciation to both the Senate and House of Representatives for this massive boost. We know that the President will assent to the bill once it is presented to him. 

   The implementation of the employees’ compensation scheme by the NSITF was an idea that was very dear to Mr. President. He wanted to ensure that workers that sustain injuries in the course of their duties are no longer left to their fate. The signing of the new national minimum wage law without hesitation shows that he is committed to bettering the lives of the Nigerian workers. 

   These addition responsibilities of providing some forms of social safety net to unemployed and aged person will be done with passion and dedication. The NSITF is well-equipped to execute these new additions.”

    Speaking on the additional mandate, the Managing Director of NSITF, Munir Abubakar, said the NSITF is ready for the implementation of the new responsibilities.

    “We are elated by these additions. The Federal Government has given us a huge task and our responsibility is to ensure smooth implementation. We are ready for the task at hand. Social security is a collective care arrangement to meet contingencies and other conditions of insecurity due to either deprivations or contingencies or both. Social security arrangements are collective remedies against adversity and deficiency. 

    The adversity aspect is addressed through a contingent social security such as the recent Employee Compensation Act. The problem of deficiency is directly addressed through the provision of a basic social security. The two dimensions are complementary and are closely related to the problem of human poverty reduction and development.”

    Abubakar explained that currently in Nigeria, statutory schemes such as contributory and tax-financed programmes do not cover more than five to 10 percent of the labour force and or population; while over 60 percent of Nigeria’s population lacks any type of social security protection.

   The NSITF boss added that those without coverage tend to be part of the informal economy and they are generally not protected in old age by social security and they also cannot afford to pay their health care bill.

  While hinted that studies have shown that people are willing to contribute to social security benefits that satisfy their priority needs, Abubakar lamented that continued growth of the informal sector that lack access to any form of social protection.

    The NSITF helmsman added: “The lack of any kind of social security is more pronounced among the vulnerable groups such as people with disability, orphans, widows and old people who are largely outside the labour force and cannot count on family support and who have not made adequate provision for their own pensions.”

   He therefore declared that the adoption of basic social security floor for Nigerians cannot be over-emphasized adding, “it will establish and implement a non-contributory social security scheme to provide protection floor containing basic social security guarantees that will ensure that over the life cycle of citizens of Nigeria in need can afford and have access to essential healthcare and have income security at least at a nationally defined minimum level. 

   All persons ordinarily resident in the country will have the financial protection to access a nationally defined set of essential healthcare services including maternal healthcare, all children enjoy income security at least at a nationally defined minimum level through family/child benefits in cash or in kind aimed at facilitating access to nutrition, education and care. 

   Those who are unable to earn sufficient income enjoy minimum income security through social assistance; maternity benefits, disability benefits, and other social transfer in cash or in kind. These are the benefits that are expected to accrue to Nigerian who are socially excluded.”

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