Civil Society Advocates for Social Security Commission

…Implores States to Enact Similar Laws

By Jude Atupulazi

Civil Society and Citizens groups have lent their support to the protection of Vulnerable Nigerian Citizens through the establishment of a Social Security Commission.

The Coordinator of the groups, and Chairman, National Coalition on Improved Service Delivery (NACOISED) Prince Chris Azor, made the disclosure, while addressing newsmen after Senator Omo-Agege’s-sponsored Social Security Bill Passed 2nd Reading at the Senate Chambers of the National Assembly.

Comrade Azor said that the Bill when passed into law would support vulnerable Nigerians, including those with several medical conditions, citizens who lacked the capacity to work, unemployed youths, the elderly, and widows among others.

He recalled that the Coalition with other citizens groups had been advocating for an institutionalized social security programme for the country, through a “Social Protection Movement” which was launched in 2020.

They pointed out that the Bill when passed into law, Nigerians with several medical conditions, those incapacitated to work, unemployed citizens, senior citizens (70 years and above), families who had lost their breadwinners, widows incapable of self-support, among others, would receive periodic social security benefits from the Commission.

They therefore implored state governments to take a cue from the Federal Government and enact similar legislations at the sub-national levels.

A Bill tagged, ”Nigerian Social Security Commission (Establishment, etc.) Bill, 2022 (SB 899)” was sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and has passed Second Reading in the Senate.

Leading the debate on the floor of the Red Chamber, Omo-Agege stated that the Bill when passed into law would legislate the setting up of a National Social Security Commission (NASSCOM) that would regulate, manage and administer social security which would provide a safety net for the poor, the weak and vulnerable Nigerians.

Omo-Agege explained that out of the nine domains listed in the existing Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which Nigeria is a signatory to, only statutorily covered employment injury benefit in the country.

The Delta Central lawmaker added that the National Social Security Commission (NASSCOM) bill aimed to reduce poverty by providing a strong social safety net for vulnerable groups and serve as a model of governance reform anchored on the principles of transparency and accountability.

Nigeria is a signatory to the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The Convention articulates globally-agreed minimum social security standards in 9 domains. Except employment injury benefit that is already statutorily covered in Nigeria, eight of the domains are uncovered, and they are the focus of the Bill.

Consistent with Convention No.102, which allows nations to enact social security laws based on their peculiarities but without prejudice to the global minimum standards, this Bill seeks to provide a comprehensive legal and governance framework for the proper administration of an inclusive national social security protection system that offers adjustable periodic benefits to eligible Nigerians who face improvidence arising from the eight uncovered domains.

The Bill further seeks to establish a Commission which shall, amongst others, determine the beneficiaries of social security benefits across the country, taking into consideration available resources, equity, severity of ascertained improvident conditions and contingencies, and such other factors that will promote national peace, unity and security through the social security system.

Contributing to the debate, the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi State) and Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger State), expressed support for the bill, noting that it addressed the lingering challenges confronting the nation as the poor, weak and vulnerable would be provided safety nets.

According to them, all Nigerians in that category would stop being willing tools for those with the sinister motives of wreaking havoc on the country.

‘This is another people-centred legislation. It will be a landmark legislation that Nigerians will remember this Ninth Senate for. I therefore urge my colleagues to support this bill,’ said Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, referred the Bill to the Committee on Establishment and Public Service for further work after passing Second Reading.

The Committee was given four weeks to report back to the Senate.