By Michael Eboh & Naomi Uzor
Artisans, under the auspices of Nigerian Automobiles Technicians Association (NATA) have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to review the Pension Act so as to embrace workers in the informal sector of the economy.
Speaking at the inauguration and flag-off ceremony of NATA Social Security Scheme, in Lagos, National President of the association, Comrade Michael Omonayin lamented the non-availability of social security arrangement for the informal sector in the country.
He expressed his disappointment at the decision of the government to exclude workers in the informal sectors from its reforms of the country social security scheme despite the fact that informal workers constitute over 80 per cent of the countryâ€™s work force.
He called on the government to address the issue and review the Act so as to allow various professionals, associations and the unemployed to benefit from the scheme.
He said that the association, concerned about the welfare of its over four million members nationwide, decided to set up its own social security scheme to bridge the gap presented by the governmentâ€™s action.
He said, This NATA Social Security Scheme was packaged to fill the critical gap that exists in the current effort of the Federal Government at reforming the social protection system including social security which deeply fall below international standards.
â€œInformal worker,Â according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO)â€™s estimate, constitute over 80 per cent of Nigerian working population, yet, informal workers are excluded from all existing social protection scheme in the country, from the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to 2005 Pensions Act.
â€œMore painful is the fact that the National Working Committee on Social Security set up in April 2009, headed by retired General Yakubu Gowon, also failed to recognise or integrate the interest of the informal workers.
â€œWe are not happy about this politics of exclusion. NATA Social Security Scheme is our alternative answer and challenges to our nation and we are committed to it. We shall give all it deserves to succeed.â€
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Prosper Okpue, Chief Executive Officer, Insurance Brokers of Nigeria (IBN), said the NATA self initiative was laudable, urging other associations to emulate NATAâ€™s idea by planning for their membersâ€ future needs.
He assured that his organisation which is the managing and coordinating broker of the scheme deliver on its mandate, adding that, there is a firm commitment of NATA to see the scheme succeed.
Under the scheme, each member of the association is required to pay a minimum of N500 monthly or N6, 000 annually to purchase theÂ benefits which include: social security , deathÂ or disability benefits.
The event which drew NATA members from all parts of the country, witnessed presentations from the participating insurance firms: Mutual Benefits Life Assurance, Crusader Life Assurance, African Alliance Insurance, Capital Express Assurance and Standard Life Assurance.