The House of Representatives on Monday resolved to invite Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance; Ndoma Udo Ndoma, Minister of Budget and National Planning, as well as Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Productivity, over non-remittance of the Federal Government’s contribution worth N17 billion into the Employee Compensation Fund.
The three ministers are expected to appear on Tuesday, 19th December, 2017 before the Ad-hoc Committee investigating the non-remittance of contributions by the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Governments into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from 2010 to date.
Chukwuka Onyema, chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee and Minority Leader, who frowned at the flagrant abuse of the extant law by government at all levels, noted that failure to register and pay the statutory contributions to the NSITF is a gross violation of the law.
He lamented that violating the law exposed the vast majority of Nigeria workforce to un-insured and uncovered risk as well as occupational hazard which could not be compensated for.
In his presentation, Adebayo Somefun, NSITF Managing Director, urged the National Assembly to intervene by ensuring that several Federal Government Statutory Bodies register and contribute to the Employees’ Compensation Scheme (ECS) under the NSITF.
Somefun said that section 33 of the Employee’s Compensation Act (ECA) provides that every employer shall, within the first two years of the commencement of the Act, make a minimum monthly contribution of 1.0 percent of the total payroll into the fund.
“However, since inception only three states have registered with the scheme. Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe have registered with the scheme but are yet to commence contributions.
“The remaining states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have not yet registered. It becomes imperative to ensure that the 36 states and FCT, as well as all the 774 local governments and other companies not registered, comply with the ECA 2010 by registering with the NSITF.
“Since 2010 till date, the Federal Government owes N17 billion to the fund. They should register so that their employees can benefit from the compensation when the occasion arises,” he said.
Somefun said that the scheme encourages safety in workplace and provides compensation for death, occupational diseases and injuries.
“It also reduces personal, physical and emotional suffering of employees and their relatives, as well as minimizes bureaucracy and bottlenecks in determining liabilities,” he added.
While declaring the investigative public hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara explained that the investigative public hearing was in pursuant of a motion on the floor of the House on the “Need for Investigation of Non Remittance of Contributions by the Federal Government, State Governments and Local Governments into the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) from 2010 to Date”; the House, by resolution, set up the Ad-hoc Committee with a clear mandate to investigate the said allegations and report back for further legislative action.
To underscore the importance of this public hearing, it is important to have an overview of the objectives of the NSITF Act which are subsumed in the objectives of the Employee’s Compensation Act 2010 (ECA) was aimed at providing open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation for all employees or their dependents for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of, or in the course of employment.
It is also geared at providing rehabilitation to employees with work-related disabilities; establishing and maintaining a solvent compensation fund, managed in the interest of employees and employers; providing for fair and adequate assessments for employers; providing an appeal procedure that is simple, fair and accessible, with minimal delays and combined efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders for the prevention of workplace disabilities, including the enforcement of occupational safety and health standards.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja