President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC,
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a Roundtable on Social Protection Cover with the theme, “Expanding Social Protection Cover and Ensuring Effective Implementation in Nigeria”, has disclosed that Social Protection is essential for human security and social justice, noting that it is the foundation for peaceful societies committed to shared wealth and prosperity.
This was made known to Journalists by the NLC president at the Roundtable on Social Protection Cover, held at the International Conference Center, Tuesday, in Abuja.
According to Wabba, “the Roundtable was a fallout of the recent 2nd National Peace and Security Summit organized by the Nigeria Labour Congress
. From the paper presentations made at the summit and the ensuing expert and plenary discussions, it was firmly established that the crisis of physical insecurity in Nigeria has very strong ties with human insecurity especially as marked by the dearth of social protection cover for the poor and vulnerable in our society.
He noted that the Social Protection is a fundamental human right intended not only to set a minimum social security floor but also plays an important role in alleviating poverty and providing economic security for all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights recognize the right of all to social security. As a human right and component of decent work, social protection allows working conditions that are safe, fosters family values, provides for compensation in case of lost or reduced income and permits access to adequate healthcare.
“Social protection floor such as basic income security including cash transfers where needed, pensions, disability benefits, unemployment benefits and support, maternity protection, child benefits. Also, universal access to essential social services such as health, education, water sanitation and housing makes a lot of difference.
He also noted that the United Nations over a decade ago endorsed Social Protection floor for Fair Globalization. Equally, ILO Convention 102, ILO Recommendation 202 and the SDG Goal 1.3 on social protection systems for all by 2030 give credence to the centrality of social protection to stability and progress.
The NLC president stated that the COVID-19 insurgency has exposed the weakness of the current global economic model and social protection system. More than 4 billion persons, 53% of the global population, are completely unprotected against economic shocks. With about 17.4% social protection cover, Africa has the least social protection coverage for its citizens leaving most Africans vulnerable to economic shocks, poverty, hunger, huge sickness burden, illiteracy, and destitution.
“The state of social protection cover and standard of living indices leaves very little to desire. As at 2020, data from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, shows that about 83 million Nigerians representing 40% of the total population live in abject poverty. As at March 2021, 33.3% of Nigerians are unemployed. We have never had such high numbers of the army of the unemployed in our country.
“Tragically, most of the unemployed and under-employed in Nigeria are caught in the web of perpetual misery as they lack the basic skills and training to break forth from the stranglehold of poverty. In the absence of any modicum of sustained social protection cover, the only available alternative is to resort to a life of crime. This is the reason many of young people are being attracted to terrorism, kidnap-for-ransom, rural cum urban banditry, armed robbery, militancy, prostitution, thuggery, and other forms of violent crime.
It could be recalled that at the last NLC Peace Security Summit, the point was adequately made that bullets and bombs will not resolve the ongoing war against terrorism, armed insurgency and violent crimes in Nigeria. The children of the poor that we failed to educate yesterday and even today have become and will become the nightmare of the children we are training.
Reacting, the Special Guest of Honour, Speaker, Federal House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, stated that social protection is one of the most important responsibilities of the government, noting that it is how we live up to the constitutional obligations to ensure that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and the unemployment, sick persons and welfare of the disabled are provided for.
“I have always believed that any politician whatever party he belong to that does not have the interest of workers at heart is not a true politician. I believe that the reason why any politician should exist is the people.
“I want to assure you that in the House of Representatives, we are committed to use the tools of legislative authority to advance solutions and implement policies that will help achieve the promise of the more perfect union. These are challenges time for our country, that much we can all agreed.
“These choices we not come easy and the actions we have to take we require sacrifice. We have it in our power to build a country where every citizens have the opportunity to rise to the height of their ability and we will, through our joint effort and by the grace of God,” he said.