Social Security and National Development

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Emmanuel Ulayi PhD

As a Developmental Economist, I am concerned with the issue of social security and how it impacts national development especially working in a leading government agency implementing social security Programmes in the country.

The Federal Government has the instrumentality to improve the plight of the poor and less privileged in the society, often left behind due to capitalism and market forces. Providing a social safety net for the poorest of the poor in any society is not only a moral obligation but necessary to preserve their lives and dignity.

We may need to delve into the historical background of how social security emerged to understand why this should be a priority.

Before the emergence of centralized government and Institutions; It was everyone for himself and people who didn’t have family or relatives to tend to were left to the mercy of strangers. Often territories didn’t acknowledge any responsibility beyond fighting external aggression.

Welfarism was almost unheard of until the English Poor Law of 1601, which gave the poor some hope from Governments in difficult times.

The Law was replicated in the United States as Civil War veterans earned some benefits from the government.

The introduction of New Deal of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt between 1933 and 1938 in the wake of the Great Depression was also a game changer in administration of social security.

More nations have since adopted and adapted social security to varying degrees of success.

Nigeria is not left behind among the commity of nations that have embraced it too, despite the fact that some have come to see social security investments as unnecessary dole out by governments to people they believe are lazy in order to make them more unproductive.

Developmental Economists see this view as wrong. We will continue to proffer social security investments as key for national development and hope levels of governments adopting welfarism within a structured framework that is monitored.

We are also faced with inquiries on What could be enhanced, or what could be removed from our social security sector in order to reap the full benefits for national development.

This writeup intends to provide readers of this writing, and the general public with a better understanding of the concept as it relate to national development.

Collins Concise Dictionary defines “Social Security as, a system under which a government pays money regularly to certain groups of people, for example people who are sick, are unemployed, or those who have no other income.” It is not to be confused with Palliatives which has generally, a short term approach. It should be noted also that social investments is broader in scope. Social Security is founded on sound economic theory leaning heavily on the Keynesian School of thought. It serves as a bridge between the two opposing views of Capitalism and Communism/Welfarism.

A bird eye analysis of social protection operations will help elucidate it better, as the concept has been known to draw its strength from the constitution.

To this end, under
the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) under the
Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, Chapter 2
(Sections 16 & 17) provides the basis for the provision of social protection in the
country. The basic principles include the State’s obligations to:
a. secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on
the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity; 16, 1 (b);
b. provide suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food,
reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled; 16, 2 (d);
c. ensure that all citizens have the opportunity for securing adequate means
of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable
employment; 17, 3 (a) and
d. Ensure that provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or
other conditions of need. 17, 3 (g).

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On the National Development Frameworks and Social Protection,
the NSPP is formulated in the context of the NV 20:2020.

The key aspirations of
this development framework are: optimizing human and natural resources to achieve rapid economic growth;
and
b. Translating that growth into equitable social development for all citizens
with improved living standards.

This Policy considers social protection goals as congruent with national
development aspirations whereby expenditures on social protection are
necessary investments in people.

Accordingly, the Policy provides the framework not only to understand the
vulnerabilities of the poor, but also as a measure to mobilise the assets and
capabilities of individuals households and communities for a sustainable human
development.

For the International Agreements on Social Protection,
the NSPP draws inspiration from International Agreements and Conventions to
which Nigeria is signatory and have direct bearings on social protection, notably:
a. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which enshrines right to
social security (1948);
b. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which advance social
protection with the human rights approach (1981);
c. The Convention on the Rights of the Child which specifically emphasises
children’s rights to social protection (1989);
d. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and its successor,
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with its commitment to poverty
reduction;
f. The African Union (AU) Livingstone Transformative Agenda (2006) which
incorporates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and ILO
Conference on Social Protection Floor Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)
which recommended that member States establish and maintain social
protection floors as a fundamental element of their national social security
system.
g. ILO Convention 102 which sets minimum standard on social security.
This Policy considers social protection as both a right and an empowerment
instrument and therefore provides the framework for all the stakeholders to work
together to fulfil the fundamental rights of citizens as endorsed nationally and
globally.

In a document from the ministry of budget and national planning, Social Protection shall mean
A mix of policies and programmes designed for individuals and households
throughout the life cycle to prevent and reduce poverty and socio-economic
shocks by promoting and enhancing livelihoods and a life of dignity.

However,
the overarching goal of this policy is to establish a gender-sensitive and age-
appropriate framework to ensure a minimum social protection floor for all
Nigerian citizens for a life of dignity.

The policy aims at the attainment of the goal
by providing guidelines for:
a. establishing universally acceptable platform of social protection
activities for all the stakeholders as well as coordination of same at all
levels of government;
b. effective resource mobilization, resource management, and
sustainability
c. awareness creation, advocacy and mobilization of support for social
protection as a viable development framework
Objectives.

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To achieve this goal, the specific objectives of the Policy are to:
a. reduce poverty among the people vulnerable to being poor;
b. empower the poor and people vulnerable to economic shocks;
c. enhance human capital development to ensure a life of dignity;
d. provide guiding principles for managing social protection projects and
programmes;
e. promote social cohesion, equity and inclusive growth;
f. ensure citizens have access to basic social services and infrastructure;
g. provide social welfare and improve food security and nutrition;
h. ensure decent employment and sustainable livelihood;protect individuals and households from shocks that can make them fall
into extreme poverty; and
j. Promote synergy and coordination among all social protection intervention
agencies.

On approaches to Social Protection,
the NSPP adopts a lifecycle approach. This approach has the following major
features:
a. All individuals pass through a life cycle with different stages of life, defined
by age brackets as follows: 0-5, 6-14, 15-24, 25-64, a 65 years and above;
b. Social protection interventions are age-appropriate and recognise the need
to arrest the build-up of risks and vulnerabilities throughout the life cycle.

Therefore, the interventions systematically target all stages of life such that
the socioeconomic situation in one phase does not transmit to the next
phase and cumulative benefits are achieved across generations;
c. Social protection interventions address multidimensional and crosscutting
issues as well as temporary and structural deprivations, shocks and vulnerabilities; and
d. The guiding principles for social protection include prohibition of
discrimination and unfair treatment of citizens due to their age, sex and
other classifications.

Furthermore, the document from the ministry, posit
“Social protection is a component of political economy.”

Conversely, the NSPP has been
developed within some established principles as follows:
I. The Principle of Redistribution
The Principle commits to the redistribution of resources to progressively reduce
the gaps in inequality using important means of resource redistribution and
provision of non-market services and opportunities to ensure social order and
stability.

In this direction, Government shall reduce poverty through social
transfers and provision of social support and services.
II. The Principle of Universal Basic Needs.
This Principle states that all humans have universal prerequisites for successful
and critical participation in social life, and that human needs are the universal
preconditions for participation in social life.

Government, therefore, affirms the
right of every Nigerian to the satisfaction of their basic needs, especially in the
areas of education, health, food security and employment.
III. The Principle of Citizenship
The Principle stipulates that the purpose of the state is for the good of the
citizens.

All citizens, without distinction of status or class or gender, should be
offered some minimum standard of living in relation to an agreed range of
services. Government shall, through its relevant agencies, carry out citizenship-
related activities to ensure effective delivery of services to the populace.

IV. The Principle of Human Rights.
Social and economic rights guarantee the right to life. Social protection rights are
valued as much as other human rights.

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Accordingly, Government shall ensure implementation of the provisions of Chapter IV: Fundamental Rights of Nigerian Citizens as enshrined in sections 33-46 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria as amended.

V. The Principle of Social Control
The Principle emphasises the important role of social control in maintaining social
stability and cohesion which are necessary for the well-being of the individual and
groups in a given society.

Government shall consciously use appropriate social
protection instruments to discourage actions that could lead to social dislocation
and problems.

VI. Principle of Social Inclusiveness
Social inclusiveness demands that increasing provision be made for economic,
social, political and cultural opportunities for citizens’ participation in the normal
activities of their society without stigma or discrimination. Government shall take
necessary measures to widen access.

Many have argued and advocated for the need to overhaul and review the existing social protection/security programmes presently in the country as it is vehemently believed by many stakeholders that the lack of centralize agency to coordinate it in the country, has led to the many inconsistencies and corruption in the management of social security in Nigeria.

I strongly believe that entrusting this mandate on an agency like the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), will ensure some sanity in the sector and curb the increasing incidences of corruption that have recently engulfed the sector.

In-additon, it will reduce the politicization of the sector which has led to many Nigerians who really need this been denied access to it.

The draft 2004 Nigeria Social Protection Policy adopted a life-cycle approach and
gender sensitivity by recognising both economic and social risks including job
discrimination and harmful traditional practices.

It presents a social protection
response organised around four main themes: social assistance, social insurance,
child protection and the labour market.

However, only a few components of them
are included in the First National Implementation Plan (2010-2013) of the NV
20:2020.

While there are many interventions on-going in form of social protection, there is a gap
of an overarching social protection policy at the Federal level limits the
implementation of social protection at both the national and sub-national levels.

Moreover, social protection programmes to date have been narrowly
conceptualised as they focused largely on conditional cash transfers and health
financing mechanisms.

These programmes have taken the form of ad hoc, small-
scale at Federal and State level, with little inter-sectoral linkage or Federal -State coordination.

Current Social Protection Programmes
In developing the NSPP, is imperative to review existing social intervention
programmes.

A mapping of the current social protection landscape in the country
indicates that a number of different actors are involved in the funding and administration which have rather impeded the smooth operation of this novel initiative.

These social safety nets that this concept are expected to provide Nigerians, are only and truly achievable with a right coordinated policy initiative.

A lot of funds have been invested so far in different projects and programmes without clear evidence of their impact and proper monitoring to adopt best practices. This is the time for a different strategy and approach!

What are your thoughts?

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