Governor Udom Emmanuel has stated that a functional social security scheme will serve as a panacea for diverse agitations across the country.
He made this known on Thursday while playing host to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and a team of NSITF officials, who were in Uyo for a two-day retreat.
Governor Emmanuel said the NSITF scheme was a welcome development in social security in Nigeria need but urges the operators of the Board to step up enlightenment on the scheme to create awareness of its implications and earn the trust of workers.
Mr Emmanuel noted that social security keeps the people are calmer and lessens agitation, stressing that Nigeria’s huge population cannot ignore such a scheme.
“Any country that this is put in place, the people are calmer and the agitation is much less. We really need this in a country like Nigeria where the population is so huge. I’m also hoping that there will be a time in Nigeria our social security will really work because social security in other parts of the world started in this format, where u can take and provide for the days when you are weak”.
He, however, noted that “we need more enlightenment. People still contribute but they don’t know what to do and what steps they need to take. I think in this age of social media there should be a proper website to educate people because you need workers’ trust. So awareness from your own side to show that people are saving for their own future”.
Governor Emmanuel criticized the seeming politicization of development programmes and institutions as an impediment to development and drew the minister’s attention to exclusion of Akwa Ibom state from the sovereign wealth fund board despite being the highest contributor to the fund.
“I want to see a new order in Nigeria where things of development will stand on their own. And if we don’t redefine that today, we will all regret tomorrow. Some of these institutions are things that we really need for proper social structures in the country. These are institutions that are not supposed to follow partisanship”.
Speaking further, the governor decried the situation where Nigeria, a country of over 200 million people has only one seaport, when a state like Akwa Ibom has a natural draught of 17.3Km that can easily be developed to serve the entire South-south and South-east.
Considering the working capacity circle of a manufacturing company, Mr Emmanuel described the situation where it takes 69 days for a trailer to move from Kano to get into Tinkan Island, clear goods and then get back to Kano, as anti-development.
He said if Nigeria could play her proper role, African countries with smaller economies are supposed to transship from Nigeria and even trade with the naira, rather than worry about having their own seaports.
The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, thanked the Akwa Ibom Governor for the warm reception accorded them in the State, describing Uyo as the pride and choice town of Nigeria’s South-south region and the governor as a creditable manager of resources.
Dr Ngige explained that the NSITF is an agency of the federal government under the supervision of his Ministry charged with managing workers’ social security, protection from work-related hazards and ensuring adequate compensation in the case of accident, incapacitation or death.
The Minister further enunciated that the scheme, in line with the 2010 Act of Parliament of the Federal Government of Nigeria, provides that with as cheap as one per cent of monthly pay, a worker’s can get premium among other benefits.
He, therefore, urged Akwa Ibom Government to enrol the state’s workers in the scheme, to be at par with employees in the federal government and such states as Lagos.