By Victor Onyema Emeruwa
At double digit economic growth, Africa represents a continent that swells with enormous possibilities. Trade is gradually being preferred to aids. Though burdened with pockets of political changes and much still, as the infrastructural deficit mounts, the social-economy is being addressed in forms of intervention initiatives.
With a population of over 156million, Nigeria is finding ways to address its own peculiar challenge. Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, can tell how tough it is to govern a country with a pool of elites, who as well could turn the wheel, if given the chance. So, in Jonathans’ one year as substantive President of Nigeria, he is churning out socio-economic policies that will enhance average living standard.
One of the inventive social schemes of President Jonathan is the introduction of a social security scheme. The program according to Dr. Mrs Ngozi Olejeme, is designed to cater for the well being of Nigerians” Olejeme is the board chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, an organization with the mandate to facilitate the implementation of the social security program.
The social security scheme is a new concept in Africa and indeed in Nigeria. ‘’But it has come to stay’’ Olejeme said.
The scheme will take a holistic look at best practice in most developed countries and domesticate. Nigeria government through the National Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF, is championing this program to help address poverty and social ills that may result from neglect. “President Jonathan has given the mandate to ensure that the unemployed, the elderly, those physically challenged and people who are socially disadvantaged are cared for” the NSITF boss said.
Jonathan’s popularity has been under a test with unrest in Northern Nigeria and spate of bombing of public places. But the President forges on to make his campaign promises a reality. One year of his substantive election has been concentrated on building strong democratic institutions, against the norms of a few who have always had their ways in the affairs of the country. The President may appear calculative in his approach to governance, contrarily, this style serves best for a country on the steep.
A sure way to bring back confidence will be to address programs that strike the cords in scales of citizens’ preferences. And the social security scheme is one of such social innovation to constructively address the over 75million poor Nigerians living on less than a dollar per day.
Also as determined to assist the President in his vision is Dr. Olejeme, combining her business savvy with her philanthropic warmth; she passionately expresses optimism that the scheme will serve it purpose. “We are here to make a change and Nigerians will tell that this government touched their lives … We are putting in place a strong and sound social security program that will reflect international best practice” Olejeme said.
An important aspect is the role of Employers of labor operating in Nigeria in securing social insurance for their workforce. An Employee Compensation Scheme was signed into law in 2010 to protect all employees in both private and public enterprises.
The law is to check excessive abuse of workplace policy and the full protection of workers’ rights. All operating companies in Nigeria including multinational corporations are compelled by Law to subscribe to the Social Insurance Scheme, covering its entire workforce with categorized premium. As soon as the premium is paid NSITF shall undertake responsibilities of ensuring quality workplace environment and requisite compensation in cases of work related injuries or death.
Countries like Zambia, South Africa, Libya and Egypt have edged in social security programs for citizens. As Nigeria joins the league of countries whose governments’ execute socially responsible programs for need-based citizens it is beginning to gather lost confidence from citizens with far-flung expectations.