By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday asked the Federal, States and Local Governments, Agencies and Parastatals, to immediately pay all contributions due to the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) in order not to jeopardise the noble objectives of establishing the Fund.
The charge was also to private organizations to follow the same order.
This was just as the Ad-hoc committee called on all major oil companies particularly the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries to expedite action to rectify the breach and pay their backlog of contributions before legal action is taken against them.
It’s equally asked well-meaning Nigerians, especially employers of labour, to pay their contributions to the Fund so that workers can be guaranteed safe landing when they fall.
The House Ad-hoc committee disclosed Monday at the public hearing of the Ad-hoc Committee Investigating the Non-Remittance of Contribution into NSITF by Federal, State, and Local Governments, Parastatals, Public Corporation and Companies.
Declaring the public hearing open, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila said NSITF was created to meet a specific need of providing adequate compensation for all employees or their dependents, in the event of death, injury, disease, or disability arising from, or in the course of their employment.
Gbajabiamila noted that, it is the employer contributions required by law that allows the fund to operate, and to meet the demands of its mandate and failure to comply with the requirement of law in this matter is an act of sabotage against the interests of the Nigerian worker which is unacceptable.
Represented by Majority Leader, Ado Doguwa the Speaker said, as it is evidently the case, government institutions themselves also fail to meet their obligations in this regard which is glaring repudiation of the government’s constitutional obligation to serve the security and welfare of the people.
“The mandate of this committee is therefore simply to identify what factors may be mitigating against full compliance with the requirements of the law in this instance, and to make recommendations thereto on what we in the House of Representatives can do to achieve full compliance, and properly penalize those who refuse to do what is required of them, whether they’re government institutions or private enterprises.
“If it requires that we amend the law, we will do so. If it requires that we work with the National Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to improve on the internal regulatory framework, we will do that too. One thing is for certain, we will make sure that the rights of the Nigerian worker are respected and their interests, protected”, he stated.
Earlier in address of welcome, Chairman of the Committee, Sada Soli disclosed that in Nigeria, the Coal and Petroleum sectors produced the highest cases of fatality and injured persons which is about 16.6 percent cent compared to 5.9 percent amongst woodworkers.
Soli lamented the fact that government and all its Agencies are guilty of non-remittance of the employee compensation contribution which is capable of giving the impression that Nigerians do not prioritize the social security and welfare scheme that provides comprehensive compensation to workers who suffer from occupational diseases or sustained injuries arising from accidents at work place or in the course of employment.
“We must remember that the whole idea behind the NSITF was to ensure that workers were not abandoned during the most vulnerable period of their lives when they could no longer look after themselves or their families.
“This is the principle behind the Employee’s Compensation Act of 2010, which provides a guaranteed and adequate compensation for all workers and their dependants for any death, injury, disease or disability in the course of their employment.