By Obioma C. Appolos
In a drastic move to ensure that many Nigerian workers, particularly those in the State Civil Service enjoy the guaranteed Employees’ Compensation Scheme (ECS) of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Minister of Labour and Employment Sen. Chris Ngige, the Board, and the Executive and Management of the Fund in a formidable synergy lead advocacy to boost ECS across the states.
The Managing Director-cum-Chief Executive of the Fund, Barrister Adebayo Somefun, who disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja recently, said that the manifestation of the advocacy which aimed at seeing NSITF realize its mandate of preventing workplace accidents and providing compensation and claims for workers who sustain various injuries, diseases, disabilities or death; kicked off with a fruitful visit to the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Udom Emmanuel.
On why it is very important for states and private sector organizations to come on board to enjoy the guaranteed benefits
of ECS, The NSITF Boss said: “What NSITF provide open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation to employees in cases of death, injury, disability they might sustain in the course of their work.
“So it is all about to compensate, and it is for the sake of humanity. In other words, what we are doing is to put smile on the weeping face. And I want to tell you that over the years till May 2017 we got here and by the special grace of God, there are lots of achievements today. Last year alone; we paid about almost a billion naira on claims and compensation.
“In the areas of prosthesis, from 2011 to 2017; there were 12cases of prosthesis that were done. And from May 2017 to date; we have done about 42 cases of prosthesis, plus another 23 which are about to be customized and fitted. So if you add all that up, you can know what we have done in 2 and half years.”
Barrister Somefun also revealed that the zeal to strategize and strengthen the Fund for effective delivery of its mandate for the benefit of all Nigeria workers was the reason the entire management team of NSITF, in attendance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, the Chairman House of Reps Committee on Labour and Employment, the Chairman of the Board of NSITF, Prince Austin Enejamo-Isire, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, NECA DG Dr Timothy Olawale, and many other stakeholders recently gathered in Uyo on a retreat.
“Part of what we came to term with at the retreat was to ensuring that more states will key in, because, like I said earlier; what we offer is basically social security services. And it is for the masses, and if we can get it right; not only NSITF will be better of but the entire nation. So we need all the support from the governors, to the press and the public to ensure that we actually succeed in the our endeavor.” He added.
Although the NSITF MD expressed sadness that no state in Nigeria has keyed in to enjoy the ECS provided by NSITF, he however noted that the synergy of the three egg heads (the Minister, the Board Chairman, and the Executive and Management of the Fund) will vigorously pursue the visionary idea of bringing state governments on board for the sake of the vulnerable state workers.
His words; “For now sadly, there is no state on board. And that is why this time around we are going to move with the Ministerial strength, the Board strength and the Management to all the states and we have started with Akwa Ibom.”
Furthermore, he explained that “Many of the states are still mixing up Workman’s Compensation Act with Employees Compensation Act. Some still believe that since they are contributing to NPF (National Providence Fund), they should not contribute again to NSITF. However, we are trying to let them know that NPF is different from NSITF.
“Because NSITF solely has to do with Employees. Employers contribute for the employees for injuries in the course of work, unlike pension which is after. And as you know; NSITF gave birth to Trust Fund that takes care of pension. NSITF basically takes care of the Employees’ Compensation Scheme as provided for and established by the Employees’ Compensation Act. And what it just does for now is compensation in cases of death, injuries, diseases or disabilities.
“NSITF is also about combining the resources of stakeholders for prevention of workplace disabilities and the enforcement of occupational health standards. It is preventive, rehabilitative and compensatory, that is what it is for.
“We are even trying to prevent injuries at work place, deaths, disabilities. It is better we prevent than for somebody to loose his leg or limb and be looking for compensation. And that is why we have this collaboration with NECA called Safe Workplace Intervention Project, which we do annually. And it has helped a lot in bringing down the rate of industrial accidents. So if we succeed in prevention, naturally; the claims should go down.”