The Federal Government has joined hands with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to promote and provide social protection for Nigerians, with a view to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Prof. Stephen Ocheni, made who this known at the Launch of the World Social Protection Report 2017- 2019 on Tuesday in Abuja, lamented that lack of social protection leaves people vulnerable to ill-health, poverty, inequality and social exclusion throughout a person’s life cycle.
The report had revealed that about 4 billion people in the world were left without social protection, including about 82 percent of the total population in Africa.
According to the minister, social protection was a right which should be recognised and respected by all government, as it constitutes a significant obstacle to economic and social development in society.
He stressed that the deficits of social protection in Africa especially in Nigeria, was glaring and worrisome despite its unique position at the heart of the decent work agenda.
Ocheni also noted that the launch of the report would guide Nigeria in unveiling the gaps and limitations confronting social protection coverage within its domain, as well as the measures to employ in order to achieve a successful implementation of an appropriate social protection system nationally and regionally to reduce and prevent poverty in the country.
“One thing that has been established is that achieving universal social protection is something that is possible and achievable if only we take the collective efforts and the right steps in the right direction.
“With presently about 16 up-to-date social protection standards which can guide national social protection policies and the abundant God given resources at our disposal, there is no reason why we in Nigeria or Africa or the World at large, should be lagging behind in universal social protection enhancement.
“Even in the poorest of countries, the fiscal and policy space for extending social protection for all exists and, what is required, is for Governments in collaboration and partnership with social partners to be proactive in exploring and channeling our human and natural resource endowment appropriately to promote social protection for all, especially now that all hands must be on deck to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in terms of its social protection components.
“On our part as government, we are fully committed and will do everything within our means to collaborate and cooperate with the organisation in the discharge of our common and mutual objectives and aspirations as far as social protection for our citizens is concerned,” he said.
Delivering the keynote address, Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Africa, International Labour Organisation, Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, disclosed that the right to health was not yet a reality in many parts of the world.
While noting that children in Africa make up the bulk of the 1.3 billion children not covered by social protection in the world, she lamented that an estimated 10 million health workers were needed to achieve universal health coverage in Africa.
Proposing a way out, Samuel-Olonjuwon urged African governments to, among other things, undertake “deliberate efforts to increase the aggregate level of public expenditure on social protection coverage.
“We must extend social protection coverage to those in the informal economy and facilitate their transition to the formal economy are key to promoting decent work and preventing poverty. Coverage extensions can be achieved in multiple ways, the most common being a mix of contributory and non-contributory.
“An honest reassessment if short term austerity or fiscal consolidation reforms which may undermine the long term development efforts as they tend to achieve cost savings, ignoring negative social impacts with regard to coverage and benefit adequacy, and thus jeopardising advances towards achieving the SDGs,” she said.
Earlier, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) High Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Alves Fernando Jorge, urged regional protection actors to work towards extending social protection to the informal sector and vulnerable people, even as he called on African leaders to heighten efforts in facilitating intraregional mobility to enhance the protection of migrant workers’ rights.
He pledged the commitment of ECOWAS towards addressing existing challenges in the provision of social protection to promote what he described as a, “modernization and expansion of social protection systems in order to provide more reliable and effective protection to as many people as possible.”
Telecoms’ GDP leaps to 1.8% growth
From a decline of -3.28 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in Nigeria’s telecommunications sub-sector jumped to 1.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, New Telegraph has learnt.
This, according to latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), shows a general improvement in the Information and Communication sector.
The telecoms and information services, which come under the Information and Communication sector in the NBS’ categorisation of economic activities, had in the last three quarters recorded negative growth rate as it fell by 1.9 per cent in second quarter 2017. In the third quarter of same year, it also went down by -5.68 per cent. By fourth quarter, the sector still went down by -3.28, even at the time when the overall GDP growth rate of the country looked positive.
However, the telecoms sector has shown remarkable signs of growth since the beginning of this year as subscriber data continue to surge.
Analysis of active mobile subscriptions in the first three months of the year shows that the telecom operators added 4.2 million subscribers within the period. Data subscriptions on the four GSM networks also crossed the 100 million mark in January and have maintained a steady growth.
The Information and Communication sector is composed of the four activities of Telecommunications and Information Services; Publishing; Motion Picture, Sound Recording and Music Production and Broadcasting. In nominal terms, the first quarter of 2018 saw the sector grow by 1.79 per cent (year-on-year) , a 7.25 per cent points decrease from the rate of 9.04 per cent recorded in the same quarter of 2017. However, it is 2.34 per cent points higher than rate recorded in the preceding quarter. The quarter-on-quarter growth rate was 3.58 per cent. The Information and Communications sector contributed 10.64 per cent to total Nominal GDP in the 2018 first quarter, lower than the rate of 11.43 per cent recorded in the same quarter of 2017 but higher than the 10.04 per cent it contributed in the preceding quarter.
The sector, in the first quarter of 2018, recorded a growth rate of 1.58 per cent in real terms, year-on-year. From the rate recorded in the corresponding period of 2017, there was a decline by 1.15 per cent points. Quarter on quarter, the sector exhibited a growth of –4.15 per cent in real terms. Of total real GDP, the sector contributed 12.41 per cent in 2018 first quarter, lower than in the same quarter of the previous year in which it represented 12.46 per cent but higher than the preceding quarter, in which it represented 11.35 per cent.
Analysts see the growth rate as a positive sign of more economic activities in the sector, leading to job creations and increased contribution to the economy.
Citing the NBS statistics, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta recently disclosed that the telecoms sector in the first quarter of 2017 contributed N1.45 trillion to the GDP, adding that in the second quarter, the figure rose to N1.549 trillion.
“This performance at a period of recession is very remarkable,” he said. “We are keeping dates with the NBS to identify and track how these trends progress. On the aggregate, the telecoms industry’s contribution to GDP in Nigeria stands at 10 per cent.
“But the figures may not tell the entire story. Investments in the sector, in human and material resources, have continued to soar. In 2001, the telecom sector could boast of a mere $50 million worth of investments but as at September 2017, we have investments worth $70 billion. The Value Added Services (VAS), segment of the telecom market in Nigeria today is worth $200 million and is estimated to grow to $500 million by 2021. The industry has provided both direct and indirect employment opportunities, accentuated growth and expansion.”
Reps probe Pencom over alleged financial mismanagement
The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) over alleged reckless financial management of retirees’ funds and infraction on the public procurement Law. The House has consequently mandated its committee on public procurement and pensions to carry out a comprehensive investigation on alleged monumental fraud ongoing at the commission.
The decision followed the passage of a motion sponsored by Hon. Zakariya Galadima on the “need to investigate the alleged violation of provisions of the public procurement Act and financial mismanagement by the National Pension Commission (PENCOM)” During debate, the legislators faulted the commission over several financial infractions as against the principles and objectives of the provisions of the Pension Reform Act, which required the commission to collect and utilize fees, levies and penalties prudently in accordance with its regulatory and compliance roles. For instance, part of the 2014 Act authorizes PENCOM to invest the retiree funds in order to generate revenue but the lawmakers are worried that such investments powers of the agency have been grossly eroded by financial abuses.
In his lead debate, Galadima faulted the agency over several financial mismanagement while expressing worry that PENCOM engaged in fraudulent practice by investing N1billion into Aso Savings and Loans Plc under its investments portfolio at a ridiculously low interest rates and further directed Aso to lend the money to MGSL Mortgage Bank Limited where a top PENCOM management staff has interest.
Confectionery firm hosts BBNaija ex-housemates
Infusion Cakes & Cafe, a Lagos-based confectionery firm, has hosted ex-housemates of the reality TV show, Big Brother Nigeria (BBNaija), in a meet and greet session in Lagos recently.
Founder and chief executive of Infusion Cakes & Cafe, Mrs. Ibigbeye Okobi, in a statement, said the company decided to host the BBNaija ex-housemates because: “We really enjoyed the free spirit they exhibited, how natural they were and how they were able to get Nigerians to actually get engaged in everything they did while in the house.”
Okobi said the management of Infusion Cakes & Cafe also felt that the location of the company in the highbrow Lekki area of Lagos would serve as an excellent platform for Nigerians who were keen to meet the ex-housemates, get to know and interact with them in a friendly and hospitable environment to really appreciate them.
Infusion Cakes & Cafe is a modern bakery and cafe where customers can get a combination of international and locally made cakes, coffee, pastries and desserts for refreshment, weddings and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, among others.
The highlight of the event was a competition for the decoration of cakes. Participants in the competition included the reigning Miss Nigeria, Miss Mildred Peace Ehiguese; one of the BBNaija ex-housemates, Anto; and a representative of Team Definition, a band of musical artistes which entertained guests at the session.
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