NSITF seeks social security coverage for informal sector

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja   |   18 August 2015   |   12:53 am  
  Ibrahim Wakawa

Executive Director Administration of NSITF Ibrahim Wakawa

THE Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has called on the relevant stakeholders to device means of including the informal sector in the social security schemes operating in Nigeria.

The Executive Director (Administration) of the Fund, Ibrahim Wakawa, who stated this in Abuja at the weekend, explained that the informal sector remains a vibrant section of the economy constituting about 70% of the participants.

Wakawa submitted that the tripartite social partners – government, labour and employers – must jointly design a funding mechanism for the inclusion of the informal sector in the three social benefits Schemes that Nigeria currently runs.

He listed employees’ compensation, contributory pension scheme and health insurance schemes established by the Federal Government to provide social benefits to the contributors as social benefit system that Nigeria is currently implementing.

His words: “What we have here in Nigeria is the contributory social security scheme, which means it is only people who are working in the formal sector that are able to contribute.

The people who are working in the informal sector are in the majority but are largely ignored because of the informality of their professions.

The artisans should have the right to some forms of social benefit at old age but that is left for the Nigerian society to come up with how to fund such initiative. In some jurisdictions, government funds these kinds of schemes and South Africa is a case in point.

In some jurisdictions, those that works pay some kind of social security tax, which is then pull together for the benefit of those in need are then provided for.

The bottom line is that the society must agree on how to fund any of the social security branches as enunciated by the ILO. There is no single model for funding of social security initiatives.”

While arguing that social security schemes help to stabilize the economy through re-distribution of taxes, Wakawa submitted that such schemes also prevent the growing of social miscreants who are forced into anti-social behaviours when they are socially excluded. “The relevance of the Scheme is very important to workers in many ways.

Under the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) that the NSITF currently implements, injured workers not only receive compensation, their medical needs are also taken care of when they sustain injuries in the course of their work.

In the event of permanent disability or even death, income protection is offered to either the survivors or families are compensated until the last child attains the age of 21 or disabled person who is unable to work again. It means when the worker dies in the course of work, his children and wife are taken care of under this scheme.

There are many children who are roaming the streets today because there breadwinners are dead and their mothers can’t shoulder the responsibilities of sending to school.

Therefore, if this Scheme is embraced by informal sector, Nigeria could reduce these types of cases within a very short period of time,” he explained. Wakawa said NSITF has established occupational safety audit in collaboration with the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) with a view to reducing workplace accidents.

He stated: “High on the objectives of the law setting up the Employees Compensation Scheme (ECS) is stressing the need for collaboration of NSITF and stakeholders to stop accidents and occupational diseases from happening in the first instance.

While compensation is a good thing, preventing accident from occurring is even better for everybody. In order to achieve this, NSITF has established Occupational safety audit in collaboration with the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA). Through this audit, we find out how employers are handling occupational safety.

NSITF no only offers advises, but we also offer incentives to employers that are doing very well in ensuring high standard of occupational safety guidelines.”

He stressed that the reluctance of employers to join the Scheme has been the major challenge confronting the implementation of the ECS. “The major challenge the scheme is facing is the averseness of most employers to see the urgent need to participate in the scheme.

The Scheme is about offering compensation to employees who suffer related injuries or contract diseases in the course of their work. So, if employers do not key in, we cannot say that the scheme has fully achieved its aims.

NSITF needs employers to fully participate in order to achieve the aim for which government establish the scheme. But on the overall, some employers are beginning to see the benefits of the scheme.

On our part, we will continue to sensitize employers to see joining the scheme as a sure way of guaranteeing the safety and wellness of their employees both in the short and long terms,” he said.



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