Social Security; A Public Policy For Good Governance In Nigeria: The Role Of Nigerian Legislature – Emeh, Ikechukwu Eke-Jeffry

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Summary: Nigeria has been facing the problem of insecurity over the years which has affected the development of the economy. The recent spate of insecurity in Nigeria, which has resulted in the loss of lives and properties is the direct consequence of the lack of a well-organized social security system that caters to the needs of the poor, disadvantaged, and underprivileged. Nigerians have learned to fend for themselves to avoid the pain that comes with unrealistic expectations from a government that has lost touch with reality when it comes to solving this societal crisis. As a result, the requirement for social security is a remedy for Nigeria’s social and economic insecurity. Any threat that Nigeria faces stems from the absence of social security. As a result, the primary goal of government should be to ensure the safety and well-being of the people. Nigeria should embrace all forms of social security, including pensions, providence funds, unemployment benefits, and family allowances, among others.


ABSTRACT

The ability of any country to consistently improve her economic growth and development depends on good governance embedded in well-structured and diligently implemented public policies developed by officials within institutions of government to address public issues through the political process, called legislation. These officials, in Nigeria are the legislators, who are faced with the situation of jointly identifying a desirable future condition, creating policies and taking actions to move towards the desired future state; monitoring progress to allow for necessary adjustments; adjustments that will lead to that desired future state. That desired future state is the whole essence of governance. But in Nigeria today, especially since the upsurge of perennial and escalating unemployment, the lawmaking body of the nation cannot be said to have jointly identified the Nigerian problems, enacted policies that will ensure good governance in the country. Finding the reason for such inadequacies and the way forward is the thrust of this paper, as it x-rays the role of the Nigerian legislature in enacting social security policies for the unemployed and aged Nigerians for attainment of good governance where poverty, hunger, destitution and unemployment are eradicated

1.   INTRODUCTION

The hue and cry of insecurity in Nigeria that has occasioned loss of lives and properties of recent which has been linked to poverty and unemployment is because of lack of organized social security system that accommodates the needs of the deprived, less opportuned and less privileged people. This organized Social security system is accredited to have set countries like the United States  of  America,  Canada, Great Britain on  the right  tract  in  the fight against corruption  and poverty  unlike  Nigeria  that  has  no  organized  social  security  system  but  is  remarkable  with organized corruption that has created and keeps fanning the ember of poverty, hence the need to develop  a  policy  that   will  ensure  that  poverty,  hunger,  unemployment  and   starvation   is circumvented.

The  justification   of  social  security  and   its  legislation   in   Nigeria  is  premised   on   the fundamental  obligation  of  government  to  legislate,  execute  and  adjudicate,  in  confirmation,  ob ervation  and  application  of  the 2nd  Chapter  of  the 1999  Constitution  of  the federal  Republic  of Nigeria  which  deals  with  the  elementary  objectives  and  derivative  principles  of  state  policy  in providing  for  the  security  (social  and  economic)  of  the  people  as  the  primary  purpose  of government, thus:

The Federal republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on the principles of democracy and social justice…2(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…(FRN, 2011)

Consequently, a consciousness of heightened poverty in the country has necessitated a collective  action  towards  supporting  the  Social  Security  Bill  in  line  with  the  United  States  of America  (USA),  United  Kingdom  (UK),  Canada  and  Brazil  who  have  adopted  Social  Security legislation in pursuance of the welfare of their citizenries. In the African scene, adoption of social security legislation would have placed Nigeria at par with about 42 African countries that have embraced  different  types  of  Social  Security  Programmes  ranging  from  Pension,  Providence Funds, Unemployment Benefits, Family Allowances and others, as revealed by a statistic from the Social Security Administration (SSA), USA.

For instance, the Republic of Seychelles, which has only a GDP of US$26,652 to cater for one

(1)   Million   people,   provides   subsistence   income   for   unemployed   persons   under   the   1980 Unemployment  Fund  Act.  The  country  has  a  total  population  of  about  1  million  people  and  a GDP  per capita  of  US  $16,652.  Kenya, another African  Country with  a  population of  about  40 million people and a GDP per capita of US$1,140 enacted the Social Security Fund Law in 1965 which  has  been  amended  in  1966,  1971,  1987,  and  1997  to  cover  the  formal  sector  and  some workers  in  the  informal  sector  including  farmers.  Malawi  is  known  for  a  contributory  scheme such that a person previously employed is entitled to some benefit from the government in the event of loss of job. Egypt also has a Social Security law since 1975.

Regrettably,  Nigeria  is  still  far  behind  in  the  drive  for  social  security  amidst  government constitutional responsibility to provide welfare for the citizens as captured by the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy. Thus, the Social Security Bill, 2009 is a child of necessity for the common man in the country. The responsibility of having a society not excessively poverty-stricken and corruption-ridden rests on all of us but more dependent on a government whose executive, legislature and judiciary is imbued with genuine courage, intention and political will to tackle these fundamental and indispensable issues, hence Nigeria has enacted few  legislations  with  Social  Safety  nets  relating  to  the  formal  sector,  including  the  Provident Fund  Act  no.  20  of  1961  and  the 2004  Pension  Reform  Act,  making  the  social  security  bills  a necessity for a modern, progressive democratic Nigeria.

Thus,  the  need  to  bridge  the  gap  between  the  rich  and  the  poor,  at  least  to  some  extent, motivated Senator (Elder) Anyim Ude in initiating the Social Security Bill, in 2009 which had five interrelated Parts with rationale to provide social security for unemployed graduates and the aged in Nigeria and for purposes connected thereto.

The proposed law provided for the establishment of a Graduate Unemployment Benefit Fund from  which  beneficiaries  who  are  graduates  and  under  the  age  of  forty  will  be  given  monthly social allowances. The establishment of an Old age Benefit Fund was also stipulated in the bill. The  fund  was  to  provide  financial  assistance  for  the  aged  individuals.  But  it  failed  to  pass  the second reading. However, a few weeks after the Senate and the House of Representatives kicked out the bill seeking to enable jobless graduates in the country receive a N15,000 monthly allowance  credible  reports  have  it  that  the  Goodluck  Jonathan-led  Federal  Government  had decided to pay unemployed graduates in the country a N16,000 monthly allowance. This monthly stipends is to be paid only to unemployed graduates of accredited Nigerian Higher Institutions who were on regular programmes until they have been productively engaged or gainfully employed, before the attainment of thirty (30) years. This age limited to me is not rational as the same age is the limit for Youth Services, but not limit year for unemployment.  Even though the bill  failed  to  scale  through,  reports  from  Presidential  sources  say  the  President  has  already approved the budget for the Social Scheme for Unemployed Graduates and the first payouts will commence this 2014.

However,  in  2013,  a  proposed  legislation,  titled:  “A Bill  for  an  Act  to amend  the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) Act, Cap. No. 28 which seeks the creation of specified function of the National Directorate of Employment cattering for the unemployed Nigerian graduates, was unable to survive its second reading following a mixed reaction of the House of Representaives Members which led to it being put to vote by show of hands as admimistered by the speaker of the Houes, hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. The sponsor of the bill, Arua Arunsi, the Honourable House  of  Representative  Member  representing  Ohafia/Arochukwu  Federal  Constituency,  Abia state, had, during his submission on the floor of the House, said the objective of the bill was to design and implement programmes to combat mass unemployment of graduates that are between the ages of 18 to 35 years and also between third to fifth year of post-graduation experience, but in  the  mean,  pay  stipends  as  allowances  to  the  unemployed  Nigerian  graduates  for  upkeeps  at least for the time being.

Unfortunately, opponents of the proposed legislation pointed out that the provisions of the bill failed to meet critical criteria of filling gaps inherent in the existing laws it was seeking to amend. A member, Ibrahim El Sudi, noted that the bill had nothing new as a similar programme for unemployed graduates is already in existence at the NDE known as graduate attachment programme which does exactly what Arunsi‟s Bill proposes. This cliam, I have not been able to find supporting documents that NDE is empowered to pay stipends as allowances to the unemployed  Nigerian.  He  however,  recommended  that  the  authorities  should  strengthen  these programmes.

Frankly, El Sudi, made a great point especially when considered alongside the documentation by Ogunlela (2012) that the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) intervene directly in the areas: Employment counseling services; Skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development training;  Provision  of  transient  jobs;  and  Enterprise  creation  to  train  beneficiaries.  These  are achieved  under  the  following  programmes  that  exist  in  NDE:  Vocational  skills  development programme  under  which  there  are  schemes  such  as  National  Open  Apprenticeship,  School-on- wheels,  waste-to-wealth,  resettlement  of  disabled  persons  scheme  and  so  forth;  Small  scale enterprises programme under which there are graduate and mature people scheme, 1 Million jobs, start  your  own  job,  women  training  and  so  forth;  Rural  employment  promotion  programme where graduate self-employment programme is emphasized; and Special public work programme (Ogunlela, 2012). But the critical question is- if NDE with all these perfect plans have not been able to impact positively on the unemployed as found by (Ogunlela, 2012) when she asserted “the impact of NDE on graduate employment has not been positive hence much still need to be done”. And called for a thorough re-appraisal of the programme (NDE) in other to overhaul the system, which  may  be  the  reason  for  Arua  Arunsi,  the  honourable  House  of  Representative  Member representing Ohafia/Arochukwu in Abia, position in calling for the repositioning of NDE to be pro-active  in  dealing  with  youth/graduate  unemployment  in  Nigeria,  by  first  giving  them stipends to survive on while something tangential is arranged for them.

In reacting to the stipends allocations to unemployed graduates in Nigeria as suggested by Arua  Arunsi‟s  Bill,  James  Faleke  said  that  providing  such  monetary  incentives  could  only compound  the  economic  challenges  facing  the  country,  because  since  nigeian  economy  is  not production-based,  industrial  revitalization  efforts  will  be  overwhelmed  .  “Rather  than  turn  our unemployed youths into lazy ones, government should channel the monthly stipends towards the revival of our industries”

The question that seems imminent is why the legislature has not seen reasons alongside the executive to allow the teeming unemployed Nigerian a stipend to wage their lives upon while they await job opportunities or get productively engaged in private or entrepreneurial sector?

2.        THEORETICAL ANALYSIS

Theoretically,  the  Institutional  model  is  applied  hence,  public  policy  is  determined  by political institutions, that give policy legitimacy  as government universally applies policy to  all citizens of society and monopolizes the use of force in applying policies.    The legislature, executive and judicial branches of government are examples of institutions that give policy    legitimacy,    hence    public    policy    is authoritatively  determined,  implemented  and  enforced  by  these  governmental  institutions,  and the relationship between public policy and government institutions is very close.

Traditionally,  a  policy  does  not  become  public policy  until  it  is  adopted,  implemented  and enforced by some government institutions. Government institutions, as a matter of policy, gives public policy three distinctive characteristics, one of which is that government institution lends legitimacy to policies . Government policies therefore are generally regarded as legal obligations that command the loyalty of citizens. Secondly, government policies involve universality hence it is only government policies that extend to all people in the society; hence the policies of other groups or organizations reach only a part of the society. Finally, government monopolizes coercion in society as it is only government that can imprison violator of its policies.

Unfortunately, the institutional approach in political science did not devote much attention to the linkages between the structures of government institutions and the contents of public policy. Instead, institutional studies usually describe specific governmental institutions- their structures, organization,   duties   and   functions   without   systematically,   inquiring   about   the   impact   of institutional characteristics on policy outputs; hence constitutional and legal arrangements were described in detail as were the myriad government offices and agencies at the federal, state and local levels. Even when the linkage between institutional arrangements and contents on policies remains  largely  unexamined,  the  impact  of  institutional  arrangement  on  public  policy  is  an empirical question that deserves investigation. Yet caution must not be thrown to the wind in our assessment  of  the impact  of  the structure-  the  legislature on  the  public  policy-  “social  security policy”.

3.   THE NEED FOR GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIAN POLITY

Despite   her   enormous   resources   and   huge   potentialities,   Nigeria   remains   grossly undeveloped hence characterized by political instability, abject poverty, acute youth/graduate unemployment, heightened crime rate, poor health prospects and widespread malnourishment. As to the causal factors, the problem  of Nigerian developmental strands  has been linked to lack of good governance; especially when defined in terms of the proper, fair and equitable allocation of resources for the achievement of the end or purposes of the state, which is the promotion of the common good (Ogundiya, 2010).

Regrettably,  even  when  many  Nigerians  have  identified  good  governance  guaranteed  in social security as the only assurance of peace, progress, stability, free and fair elections, we have lacked  the  foremost  ingredient  in  governance  and  government  called  „good‟.  Good  governance thus,  is  viewed  as  the  only  passport  to  delivering  the  dividends  of  democracy.  For  the  health, power,  the  manufacturing  sectors,  education  and  largely  the  nation  to  work,  we  need  good governance. To maximize our potentials, improve the general welfare of the Nigerian people and even  development  in  geo-political  terms,  we  need  good  governance.  Until  good  governance  is viewed as the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented, we are  still  far  off  simply  because  the  way  and  manner  public  persons  tend  to  public  institutions, conduct public affairs, manage public resources, are corrupt, and so do not bring about the good of the people as adumbrated in socials security provisions.

To wit, good governance within the confines of a popular democracy should be anchored on two  things-  a  constitution  suited  to  the  special  needs  and  circumstances  of  Nigeria  as  multi- dimensional ethno-religious and political economic structure: and a leadership suited not only to the exigent needs of Nigeria, but the exactitudes of the people. Hence good governance requires no ordinary type of leadership; as tolerance; breadth of outlook, intellectual comprehension; hard work; selfless devotion; statesmanship; a burning sense of mission are some of the virtues that are necessary  to  make  a  success  in  leading  this  nation.  Unfortunately  past  administrations  have lacked these virtues or at best have possessed one at the expense of the other and that has led them  to  groping  in  the  dark  on  how  to  deliver  good  governance.  The  increasing  fears  is  that today,  with  the  legislature  implicitly,  involved,  the  current  government  is  guilty  of  the  same crime; as the current administration have refused to cultivate leadership qualities shown to have knacks to develop  a mental magnitude, as clear  as our problems are,  and there seems a  lack of ability  in  appreciating  and  grasping  the  salient  details  as  well  as  most  of  the  temporal  and practical implications of a given situation or problem such as youth and graduate unemployment (Dickson, 2011).

Therefore, for good governance to be feasible in Nigeria there is the need for a dedicated and functional  legislature,  a  viable,  vocal  and  independent  judiciary  with  integrity,  and  attitudinal transformation  on  the part  of  the political  elites,  to ensure good  governance  and  development. The essence of a functional, dedicated and virile legislature is to make a sound policy for the public such as passing “the social security bills” or at best fashioning another pattern of social security, but not rejecting it as long as unemployment persist, it must be tackled head-on through a policy approved by the appropriate authority- the legislature. Aside, the unemployed youths and the aged, there are women whose husbands were of little means and died without anything means of survival. There are others married who are not graduates and are not youths but have no tangible means of livelihood. They need to be provided for, or at worst be given a grant/loan to start up a means of living.

4.        MEANING AND FINANCING OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAMMES

Semantically,  social  security  is  a  public  provision  for  the  economic  and  sometimes  social welfare of the aged, unemployed, etc, especially through pensions and other monetary assistance. It  is  a  government  programme  designed  to  provide  such  assistances.  In  the  United  Kingdom (UK), social security is monetary assistance from the state for people with an inadequate or no income. In United States of America (USA), it is a federal insurance scheme providing benefits for pensioners and those who are unemployed or disabled.  It is defined as the theory or/and practice of providing economic security and social welfare for the individual through government programs maintained by moneys from public taxation. It is a program in which the government provides money to people who are unable to work because they are old, disabled, or unemployed. Simply put, it is money that is paid to people with vulnerable situations through a social security program. Social security is a collective care arrangement to meet contingencies and other conditions of insecurity due to deprivation or contingencies of both. Strategically, it is a collectively collegial arrangements that redeems the person(s) protected against adversity as a result of some social deficiencies

According to Iroabuchi (2009) Social Security is a human right, as well as an economic and political  necessity.  Therefore,  as  an  efficient  market  economy,  Nigeria  has  to  embrace  social security as an indispensible part of its institutions   because it breeds development by ensuirng a clamps down on poverty . These systems of socio-economic security were  introduced  in Europe  in the late 19th century and were slowly implemented in most countries during the early 20th century  and  consolidated  after  the  Second  World  War.  He  (Iroabuchi)  contended  that  social security  programmes  has  existed   in  Nigeria  since  1942,  however  in   piecemeals  with  the workmans‟ compensation  as  a starting  point.  Others  are benefits  for  temporary  and  permanent disability, unemployment, maternity and sickness.  All these have been going on without a unified policy with no clear funding.

In  the words  of  Nwabueze (1989),  Social  Security  is  about  the social  protection,  organized collective protection, of the individual against the economic consequences – loss or suspension of income, poverty, want, destitution, etc- arising from certain social risks of life such as sickness, maternity,   invalidity,   death   resulting   from   non-occupational   injury   or   disease,   old-age, employment  or  occupational  injury  and  unemployment.     The  concept  of  social  security  is predicated upon a vision of a fairer arrangement of society in which the state assumes a general responsibility to ensure that the individual is secured by organized collective action against the risks of social and economic life. It is based on solidarity (one of Africa‟s traditional fundamental values),  which  gives  greater  protection  against  certain  social  risks  than  individual  effort  to provide  for  the  future.  It  works  by  pooling  resources  to  provide  benefits  and  services  to  the persons  protected  when  a  prescribed  contingency  takes  place”.   It  is  a  matter  to be  tackled  by general policy and under a general national scheme. The least required of the state is to regulate law by the way social security is organized and administered, but its responsibility should extend beyond  this  to  involvement  in  its  administration  and,  in  appropriate  cases,  its  funding  in  the whole or in part to ensure its legitimacy.

However,  Social  security  should  be  differentiated  from  social  welfare  services  (including public health services). The latter are amenities provided by the state, either free or at a fee for the population at large as part of its social responsibility to cater for the well being of its citizens but no individual can claim them as an entitlement or right legally due to him from the state. Social security is founded on the notion of individual right whereby cash benefits can  be claimed as an individual  entitlement.  But  the  fact  that  social  welfare  services  cannot,  for  reasons  of  limited resources, be claimed as an entitlement suggests that the range of persons and contingencies that can be covered b y social security is necessarily limited, at any rate in countries whose economy is insufficiently  developed.  Social  security  and  social  welfare  services  need  to  be  coordinated  for them  to be  able to complement  each  other;  hence  the latter  had  so  eluded  Nigeria  (Nwabueze, 1989).

In Nigeria, State Security looms so large not so much because the Nigerian state, its ordered existence,  safety  and  territorial  integrity,  face  any  real  threat  of  danger,  either  from  within  or without, but because the personal safety of those in control of the state and the security of their offices are regarded by them as synonymous with the security of the state. This explains why we hear so much about state security- a network of state security organizations (SSS) spread all over the place with vast sums of money appropriated and spent to maintain it. But little or nothing is known,  said  or  done  about  social  security,  about  how  to  secure  the  individual  against  want, poverty, destitution, diseases and idleness, which may be trust upon him by the varied hazards and  vicissitude  of  social  life,  notably  loss  or  suspension  of  income  or  means  of  sustenance resulting  from  sickness,  maternity,  accident  injury,  invalidity, old-age,  death  of  breadwinner  or unemployment, hence there is no clear statement of policy regarding it and little is spent on it by the state, except in its capacity  as employer. This neglect has manifested itself in the hordes of blind people and other disabled persons who infest our cities, all begging for alms, in the lack of proper  and  adequate  maintenance  for  children,  and  in  the  hunger  and  disease  that  constantly inflict  the  masses.  Without  protection  from  the  state,  the  individual  is  left  largely  to  his  own devices in the fight against the risks of social life- a situation made worst and confounded by the insecurity  of  life  and  property  by  a  harsh  economic  environment  made  manifest  in  escalated poverty, inequality and unemployment (Nwabueze, 1989).

The pre-occupation of the state with “state security” and the neglect of the “economic security” of the individuals clearly manifest a distortion in our priorities. The economic security of the individuals should be far greater a concern to the government and society than the security of the state, for, as the constitution solemnly proclaims, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government” S.14 (2)(b). Paradoxically, whatever threat of danger that faces  the  Nigerian  state  today  seems  more  from  the  absence  of  economic  security,  particularly economic insecurity arising from mass unemployment (Nwabueze, 1989), hence, the then Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, Abubakar Umar, once said, “Full employment is …our guaranteed  of  stability,  security  and  balanced  economic  development”  hence    our  effort  as  a country should therefore be directed more at fighting the root causes of whatever threat there is to the security of the state.

In  x-raying  the  objectives  of  social  security,  Nwabueze  (1989)  upheld  that  modern  social security  seeks  to  fulfill  at  least  six  objectives.  The  foremost,  and  one  with  which  it  began  is income security.  That is to say the maintenance of income by cash benefit in the event of its loss or  suspension  caused by  any of  the contingencies  mentioned  above,  with  the object  of  creating among individuals and families “the confidence that there level  of living and quality of life will not, in so far as possible, be greatly eroded by any social or economic eventuality”.

The machinery of social security thus seeks, irrespective of social contingencies, to make it possible for “the entire population, or at least, the great majority, to benefits progressively from the same guaranteed maintenance of their standards and ways of life,” which for long has been a privilege of a small majority. It seeks to insure that those who are well off do not become poor, that the poor do not become destitute, and that generally want is alleviated.

The  objectives  cover  everybody  earning  an  income  –  employees  as  well  as  self-employed workers, although in Africa and other developing countries, it has largely been restricted to the former.  With  the  exception  of  family  allowances  and  other  social  assistant  schemes,  all  social security   cash   benefit   schemes   –   sickness   benefits,   maternity   benefit,   compensation   for employment  injury,  old  age,  invalidity  and  survivors‟ pension,  and  unemployment  benefits-  are directed towards income maintenance.

On  financing  the  scheme,  he  furthered  that  social  security  is  financed  from  three  main sources: contribution by workers and employers based on wages pr earnings and state financing. Usually,  financing  is  by  a  combination  of  all  three  methods,  a  combination  of  workers‟  and employers‟  contributions  or  a  combination  of  employers‟  and  state  financing;  sometimes,  it  is financed by the employer alone or by the state alone.

Financing   by   each   of   these   methods   is   rationalized   on   different   grounds.   Workers‟ contribution  is  said  to  ground  entitlement  to  benefits  as  a  right  and  to  participation  in  the management of a protection scheme; it forces upon workers awareness about the uncertainty of the future and their responsibility to provide for it by compulsory saving. The employer‟s contribution is rationalized by reference to his part in the chain of causation of some of eth risks against  which  protection  is  needed,  particularly  occupational  injury  or  disease,  unemployment, illness or invalidity associated with exertions at work and their wear and tear on the human system, as well as his responsibility for the maintenance of the human resources that sustain his enterprise  and  its  profitability.  There  is  also  the  gain  from  good  labour  relations  with  the resultant improvement in the quality of work and the stability of labour. The state‟s contribution is predicated on its social responsibility to ensure that the individual, in particular the needy- the age, the invalid, the blind or mother with dependent children- and the economically weak class, is protected against the risk  of life. Moreover, its  actions and policies or lack  of  them  are often a major contributory factor in the causation of some of the risks, e.g. unemployment and sickness. Also, the financial intervention of the state is viewed as “a practical necessity where funds were insufficient or where low contributive capacity of certain categories of workers had to be remedied”.

Thus, tripartite financing, while it is, and still remains the usual method of financing, raises the difficult question concerning the share of the cost to be borne by each of the three social partners, but the guiding principle embodied in International Labour Organization (ILO) Income Recommendation,  No  67  of  1944  stipulates  that  “the  cost  of  benefits,  including  the  cost  of administration, should be distributed among insured persons, employers and taxpayers, in such a way as to be equitable to insured persons and to avoid hardship to insured persons of small means or any disturbance to production”.

The social security (Minimum Standards) Convention 1952   (No.102) re-affirms the guiding principle  in  its  article  71(1)  which,  provides  that  the  cost  of  benefits,  including  the  cost  of administration shall be borne collectively by way of insurance contributions or taxation or both in a manner which avoids hardship to persons of small means and takes into account the economic situation of the member and of the classes of persons protected”, but without going into specifics except only to say that the total contribution borne by workers must not exceed 50 percent of the total financial resources allocated to the protection of employees and their wives and children. But most important of all, it puts on the state the „general responsibility for the due provision of benefits: as well as responsibility to “take all measures required for this purpose.”

The specifications in ILo Income Security Recommendation (No.67) have been considerably modified  in  the  practice  of  different  national  systems,  hence  a  1984  ILO  study  revealed  for example, that in many countries, the system imposing exclusive liability on the employer for the occupational injury or disease is being replaced by joint financing from employers and workers‟ contributions while in other cases, workers‟ contribution is being reduced or altogether abolished. On the whole, payroll contributions (mainly employers‟) remain globally the predominant source of  social  security  financing.”  At  the  same  time,  quite  apart  from  the  traditional  forms  of  state participation, there has been a significant development of the public financing of either the entire expenditure  of  one  or  several  branches  or  of  a  specific  class  of  benefits,  in  particular,  basic pensions…or benefits granted to certain categories of persons… or benefits granted subject to a means test. Furthermore, instead of self-employed persons paying the combined employer‟s and worker‟s  contribution  as  is  envisaged  by  the  income  security  recommendation  (67),  there contribution  is  at  a  much  reduce  rate  in  any  country,  with  the  state  making  up  the  difference (Nwabueze, 1989).

5.        THE NIGERIAN LEGISLATURE AND SOCIAL SECURITY PROVISION

According to Kolawole (2012) Nigerian legislators have contributed immensely to the underdevelopment of Nigeria but, the tendency has been to look at the clueless executive branch of government as the source of our woes, but that is a correct thing to do because the executive is responsible for policies implementation and maintenance of law and order in the society, as they run the day-to-day machinery of government.

Hence  in  any  given  democracy,  the  legislature  performs  three  basic  functions:  lawmaking, appropriation  and  oversight  of  the  executive.  Perceptibly,  the  Nigerian  legislators  make  laws, especially the ones that would not upset the applecart. They do a lot of appropriation and carefully  jack  up  the  budget  to  accommodate  their  own  interests.  Of  course,  they  do  perform oversight functions excellently, as long as the agency or ministry or parastatal they are overseeing would “support” public hearings and give committee members tickets and bundles of dollars  to  fly  to  some  unknown  Republic  to  attend  “capacity-building”  conferences.  But  as  a matter of responsibility, the Nigerian constitution empowers the legislators to probe a political and public office holder and remove same from office if found guilty. But this is just on paper as they have gladly surrendered their independence to the executive. Therefore, in more ways than one,  the  legislators  have  contributed  their  own  quotas  to  the  underdevelopment  of  Nigeria (Kolawole, 2012)

If anyone is in doubt of the role of the Nigerian legislators in ensuring that Nigerians are denied   good governance and thus contribute fervidly to the underdevelopment of Nigeria, an x- ray of their role in the ensuring that the bills seeking for stipends (allowances) for the unemployed graduates does not see the light of the day that has attracted varying and various reactions  from  student  and  unemployed  graduates  in  Nigeria  which  may  tear  the  country  into shreds. The Bill, entitled “An Act to provide social security for unemployed graduates and aged in Nigeria,” sponsored by Senator Anyim Udeh.

Leading  the  debate  on  the  floor  of  the  Senate,  Senator  Udeh  said  creating  social  security infrastructure for the aged and the unemployed graduates would curb crimes and other social vices, including reduction of mortality rate. He said: “The social security Bill is in compliance with section  14  of  the 1999  Constitution.  It  is  more  so,  because over  70  per  cent  of  our  people live below poverty level. Creating the social security scheme in which unemployed graduates and the aged will have minimum wage to live on will help tackle the problem of poverty.”

Disclosing  the  cost  implication  of  the  scheme,  Udeh  told  the  Senators  that  an  estimated  N77 billion  would  be  needed  to  run  the  scheme  between  2011  and  2015  if  the  Bill  was  passed. The Bill received the support of the Senators, but most of them warned against the abuse of the scheme   and   expressed   fears   on   the   ability   of   the   Federal   Government   to   implement   it. For instance, Senator Grace Bent (PDP, Adamawa South) in her support for the bill, decried the high rate of poverty in Nigeria and absence of social security scheme to address the problems of the  less-privileged.  Bent  said:  “Nigeria,  before  now,  should  have  had  this  sort  of  legislation.  A government that has vision and love for the people at heart should have this legislation. This Bill will solve the social security problems all over the place and reduce mortality rate in the country.” Before  the  second  reading  of  the  bill,  President  of  the  Senate,  Senator  David  Mark  while expressing  concern  on  the  rising  number  of  unemployed  graduates  called  for  caution  in  the implementation  process.  He  said:  “We  need  to  worry  about  the  level  of  unemployment  in  the country. We need to worry about those going without a dime in their pockets. This Bill is not only for the unemployed graduates or the aged, every Nigerian should be able to have a platform that       will     guarantee       him  better    living   conditions.”

However, the bill was truncated by the National Assembly in spite of the Minister of Labour and  Productivity  (2008-2010),  Prince  Adetokunbo  Kayode‟s  assertion  that  major  crises  being witnessed all over the country are traceable to unemployment, hence if the people were engaged and  employed,  it  would  be  difficult  for  them  to  cause  crisis  in  the  country.  “the  duty  of  every government is to put its people to work and that “when a government creates opportunity for the people to be employed, then it is really responsible for the welfare of the people and this is the mandate  of  government.”  He  therefore  challenged  the  Federal  Government  and  the  National Assembly  to  ensure  that  2010  was  a  budget  of  employment  and  empowerment  of  the  people. .

Years later, Arua Arunsi, a Federal House of Representative Member, who sponsored a bill seeking  monetary  social  security  for  the  unemployed  Nigerian  graduates,  had,  during  his submission on the floor, said the objective of the bill was to design and implement programmes to combat mass unemployment  of graduates that are between the ages  of 18  to 35 years and also between third to fifth year of post-graduation experience. According to him, the bill also seeks to pay  certain  amount  of  allowances  to  the  unemployed  graduates  in  Nigeria.  The  proposed legislation,  titled  “A  Bill  for  an  Act  to amend  the National  Directorate  of  Employment  (NDE) Act,  Cap.  N28  Laws  of  the  Federation  of  Nigeria  2004,  by  creating  specific  functions  and objectives   for   the   Directorate   to   specifically   cater   for   unemployed   graduates   of   tertiary institutions,”  however,  failed  to  scale  second  reading  when  it  was  put  to  vote  by  the  Speaker, Aminu   Waziri  Tambuwal,  as  opponents  of  the  proposed   legislation   pointed   out  that  the provisions of the bill failed to meet critical criteria of filling gaps inherent in the existing laws it was  seeking  to  amend.  A  member,  Ibrahim  El  sudi,  noted  that  the  bill  had  nothing  new  as  a similar  programme  for  unemployed  graduates  was  already  in  existence  at  the  NDE,  when  he asserted  that  there  is  a  graduate  attachment  programme  that  does  exactly  what  this  bill  is seeking. Even, a similar programme exists for non-graduates on the social aspect for unemployed non-graduates at the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NISTF). What should happen is for the  authorities   to  strengthen   these  programmes.  Also,   James  Faleke  said   providing  such monetary  incentives  could  only  compound  the  economic  challenges  facing  the  country  as  the industrial revival efforts of the Nigerian government will be jeopardized as Nigerian economy is non      production      based.  

But a sharp response in form of a question from an anonymous sources says if other measures are  being  put  in  place  for  unemployed  graduates,  why  is  the  agency  not  effective?  Again,  the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NISTF) which Ibrahim El Sudi made mention of was also captured in the speech of the minister of Labour and Productivity, Adetokunbo Kayode, when he noted that government‟s new stance on poverty reduction was “informed by the urgent need to ensure that the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) executes its mandate of delivering social security to the poor”, hence he lamented that the absence of a national policy had made it difficult  for  the   Fund   to  perform  this  mandate,  49  years  after  Nigeria   attained   political independence despite the country being an active member of the International Labour Organisation.

Several  questions  have  emanated  from  the  actions  of  the  legislature  by  halting  two  bills seeking to better the lots of Nigerian unemployed graduates and aged. Questions such as: is the social security bill irrelevant to Nigeria? Are the legislators not really interested in the welfare of the  Nigerian  unemployed  graduates?  Do  they  not  see  any  relationship  between  the  perennial unemployment of Nigerian graduates and the increase rate of crimes in the polity? Does the executive have the legal right and moral justification to implement the proposed N16,000 stipends  to  Nigerian  unemployed  graduates?  Does  Nigeria  have  what  it  takes  to  execute  such progamme and finally, does it really mean that the legislature is only after their wellbeing and does not bother about the teeming unemployed graduates?

6.   CHALLENGES OF INSTITUTING SOCIAL SECURITY POLICY IN NIGERIA

According to Nwokeoma (2013), the greatest challenge of instituting social security policies in nigeria is unavailability of records that could help to check abuses hence in countries where social security schemes are in place, the beneficiaries are identified with and recognized by their special  Social  Security  Number  (SSN)  thus,  without  proper  recording  keeping  as  evidenced  in Nigeria, such noble idea, scheme, policies and progrmmes may be marred by corruption. This fear is based on the fact of unresolved contestation over the 2006 census which still serve as the official data source for Nigeria. The essence is to check against double or multiple registration by a single person; and knowing the nationality of anybody residing in Nigeria;  those that normally come  in  though  our  porus  borders  from  our  neighbouring  countries  of  Niger,  Benin,  Chad, Cameroon, etc

In lieu of the challenges of inaccurate operational data for efficient administration of social security programmes, the tendency of diverting the noble intents of social security policies  into self-enrichment programmes by those at the helm of affairs, especially the politicians looms large as  it  is  a  trend  in  Nigeria,  which  made  Nwokeoma  (2013)  to  cite  the  squandering  of  the  “ people‟s bank” and the bursary schemes of the olden days when government saw reasons to engage indigenet, diligent  and intelligent but vulnerable Nigerians to school. The way the anti- graft agencies in Nigeria conduct their affairs also is a reason to worry. Given the police pension fund scandal for an instance, one cannot but wonder how this policy will turn up because Nigeria lacks the machinery, availability of funds notwithstanding, to undertake a social security scheme. The most sustainable strategy for its poverty reduction still remains the revival of the national economy, which presently is on dire straits given the parlous state of infrastructure and erratic power supply.

7.        REACTIONS OF NIGERIANS TO THE REJECTION OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY BILLS BY THE LEGISLATION

As against the argument on the appropriateness or otherwise of the policy, an anonymous sources said “yes,  the policy can work if and only the leaders can repent from national sins, and also  walk  by  election  not  selection  then  all  it  take  to  be  Nigeria  as  a  nation  can  stand”. Responding to the senate‟s rejection of the bills, Murphy Egbe asserted  “without being told, we should know that this kind of bill cannot be passed”. I just don‟t understand this people, I just hope they live long to see what will result from this in the nearest future. Arhmeed Aderoju A aired his opinion when he said “while a lot of members in this house are certificate forgers, 419ers, school cert holders and scoundrels being paid millions from the public purse for doing virtually nothing; violent militants being paid 65k monthly for nothing, you guys find it difficult to agree to pay stipends to graduates who could not find jobs through no fault of their own and who have refused to take up arms against their motherland”. And Rasheed Adejuwon blasted “God in His full wrath will shoot down your lives the way you shot down this bill”. Unlike majority of the legislators, Arizona believes that “the only way to reduce poverty in this country is to implement social security, especially when emphasis is paid to its enormous importance one of which is the reduction   of   state  insecurity  in     Nigeria  as  socal  securioty  is  beeved     up.

8.   POLICY OPTIONS

Having  exhaustively  x-rayed  the  role  the  Nigerian  legislators  in  the  promotion  of  good governance in Nigeria vis-à-vis the provision of social security, the following recommendations suffice-

  1. That the Nigerian executive should eschew  every form  of fear  or favour that  may come  in  between  them  and  their  constitutional  responsibility  of  implementing policies that are in favour of the Nigerian masses such as the social security policy that seeks to cater for the unemployed and the aged, as state security is contingent upon social security;
  2. That the legislative arm of government in Nigeria who is the public policy-making body should awake to the project Nigeria and pay attention to the yearnings of the Nigerian populace instead of insisting on what they thought might be in the best interest of Nigerians in the interest of our modern progressive democratic society, and  enact  laws  that  will  promote  and  provide  social  security  to  the  aged  and unemployed as well other challenged and less privileged Nigerians;
  3. That the Nigerian masses should not lose sight of the price- a total people-oriented democracy  that  promises  and  delivers  the  goods  imbedded  in  good  governance. They should demonstrate/protest peacefully when necessary at least to register their disapproval or otherwise of a given policy by the government such as the rejection  by  the  legislature  the  social  security  bills.  Again,  those  in  information dissemination should continue the good work as of social crusade as “an uninformed man is a deformed man;
  4. Finally, that widely espoused revolution as the only way out, maybe closing up on us except we pursue rigorously, the path of full employment (in public, private and entrepreneurial    sectors).    Therefore,    the    presidency‟s    attempts    at    curbing unemployment with strategies such as YouWin Nigeria should be made transparent, non-politicized and continuous. Moreso, the financing should not be grant but loan on  zero  interest  rate  to  be  repaid  24  months  after  the  inception  of  the  business. Again,  this  strategy  should  be  stratified  into  classes  such  as  graduate  with  good business  proposals,  plans  for  sponsorship,  non-graduate  skill  acquisition  schemes, and loans for married women/widowed for small business start ups; less privileged children‟s free education and basic upkeep supports. This will give Nigerians a sense of belonging and restore sanity in the system, as insecurity will die a natural death.

9.       CONCLUSION

Relying on  the  statement  of  the former  Minister  of  Labour and  Productivity,  Prince Adetokunbo  Kayode,  that  the  crises  being  witnessed  all  over  the  country  is  traceable  to unemployment;  and  our  efforts,  in  the  words  of  Nwabueze  (1989)  should  be  directed  more  at fighting the root causes of whatever threat there is to the security of the state by providing the social security, hence if the people are engaged and employed, it will be difficult for them to cause crisis in the country, there is need for an organized social security in the system that will give every Nigerian some sense of belonging as their basic needs are met and they are empowered to fend for themselves and families as well as meet other social responsibilities. Thus, it is the duty of every government to put its people to work  or solve their  immediate problems arising from lack   of   opportunity   to   be   gainfully   employed.   That   is   why   when   a   government   creates opportunity for the people to be employed, such government is seen as really responsible for the welfare of the people and this is the mandate of government.

This   challenge   may   be   what   inspired   the   President   Goodluck   Jonathan‟s   YouWin programme  that  aims  at  creating  800,000  jobs,  by  means  of  business  plan  competition.  A programme he started since 2011 and has span till today. To wit, the coordinating minister of the economy  and  the  minister  of  finance,  Okonjo-Iweala,  while  presenting  the  2014  budget  to  the National  Assembly  had  said  that  this  budget  is  for  inclusive  growth  and  job  creation.  A  lot therefore, is hung in the balance and expectation is much, just as state insecurity is much, poverty, unemployment, deprivation, frustration and death are much. There is the need for an organized and people-dedicated social security scheme to arrest these social anomalies reiterated above, and such need is much.

Therefore, it seems obvious that the legislators‟ rejection of both bills is ill-intended and rash, because they (the legislators) are well paid and are aware that the issue of unemployment is not orchestrated but real hence the need to tackle it. Having turned down the proposals, the need to suggest possible remedial actions behoove on them, hence the need for the legislature to parley with the executive and chart a new course that will achieve the same aim – reduction of unemployment in Nigeria and taking care of the aged- two core focus of social security.


Recommendation(s):

• The Nigerian legislators should avoid bias while carrying out their constitutional responsibility of implementing policies that benefit the Nigerian people, specifically the social security policy, which aims to help the underserved and vulnerable population.
•The public policy-making body should pay attention to the interests of the people rather than their interests.
• The widely advocated revolution as the only way out may be closing in on us unless we pursue the route of full employment with zeal in public, private and entrepreneurial sectors. In essence, the presidency’s efforts to reduce unemployment through methods like YouWin Nigeria should be made open, non-politicized, and continuous.


About the Author:

Emeh, Ikechukwu Eke-JeffryDepartment Of Public Administration, University Of Nigeria, Nsukka

Source: Journal of Social Economics Research

Keywords: Good governance, Legislature, Public policy, Social security, Nigeria State.

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