Over the past fifty years, the NSITF has evolved from a Provident Fund Scheme to a Social Insurance Scheme and, currently the Employees’ Compensation Scheme.
1. The National Provident Fund (NPF) was established by an Act of Parliament in 1961 to provide a poverty alleviation measure as required by convention No.102 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The Scheme was targeted at protecting private sector employees, whose employers were then mostly the multinational, from financial difficulties in the event of either old age, cessation of employment, invalidity or death as most employers then did not have such provisions in their employment policies. In a sense, the provident fund scheme was a compulsory savings scheme – i.e. defined contributed scheme. The Act provided for monthly contributions by members at the rate of 6% of basic salary subject to a maximum of N8.00 per month or a sum total of N96.00 per annum to be paid in equal proportion by the employer and the employee. In the event of emigration from the country, employment cessation, old age, invalidity or death, the cumulative amount contributed plus accrued interest (7% as at 1994) calculated on a compound basis, was paid to the contributor or his/her dependent as the case may be. The Act was later amended by another Act of Parliament in 1962 to cover only employees in the private sector who were not covered by the Pension Service Scheme.
1.2. Based on the unanimous verdict of the various persons and bodies including International Labour Organisations (ILO) experts that were appointed by the Federal Government to review the operations of the NPF that the organization had not performed its responsibilities satisfactorily and creditably and therefore, was not achieving the objective for which it was set up, the Technical Committee on Privatisation and Commercialization (TCPC) (now Bureau on Public Enterprise) which was set up in 1992 recommended the repeal of the Act and partial commercialization of its activities in order to make it self-funded. The Federal Government accepted the recommendation and in 1993, Promulgated the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to reflect its new role and objective. The Act vested all the assets and liabilities of the NPF Management Board in the new NSITF Management Board. In July 1994, the Honourable Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, launched the new scheme.
The NSITF Scheme
2.0. Contributory Pension Scheme
2.1. Under the provision of the NSITF Act, 1993 all employers of labour in the Private Sector which were registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 1990, either as companies or partnerships, irrespective of the number of their employees or were sole businesses with a workforce of not less than five (5) employees, were required to register as members of the NSITF Scheme and remit their contributions monthly. It was mandated to provide the following benefits:
• Retirement pension benefit
• Survivors benefit
• Retirement grant
• Death grant
• Invalidity benefit
• Invalidity grant and such other benefits as may be approved from time to time by the Board.
2.2 The NSITF scheme was a defined benefit scheme which enabled contributions to enjoy pension and grants far beyond their contributions. The new rate of contribution, which was effected after an actuarial review of the scheme, took effect from January, 2002. It was from the cumulative contribution that the cost of administering the Fund was funded and the surplus was invested in safe, liquid and profitable investment to generate income for the payment of benefits. Registered members were entitled, subject to certain qualifications, to receive pension and grants as benefits in the event of attaining the retirement age of 60 (or 55), invalidity or death, which would be paid to them or their survivors as the case might be.
In order to deliver on its mandate, the Fund was given operational autonomy in order to;
2.3. NSITF scheme was funded with contributions from the registered members of the scheme. The cost of administration of the scheme by the NSITF Board (capital and recurrent) were borne by the Fund, as the scheme plan allowed between 5-25% of contributions received to meet administrative costs (normally higher at inception of scheme and progressively lower as the scheme matures). NSITF was also empowered under the Act to carry on business of profitable nature, investment, etc. The financial provisions of the NSITF Act (Ss 27 & 23) permits NSITF to do as outlined above.
3.0. Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004
3.1. Following the enactment of the PRA, NSITF ceeded its pension's business. In compliance with the Section 42 of the PRA 2004, NSITF incorporated a subsidiary company, Trustfund Pensions Plc in partnership with other stakeholders viz: MainStreet Bank(Afribank Plc), Denham Management Limited, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress in 2004. NSITF owns majority shares of Trust fund Pensions Plc which was licensed by the National Pension Commission in December 2005 and commenced operation in January 2006 having transferred assets in excess of N54billon to the TrustFund Pension Plc.
3.2. The Pension Reform Act 2004 (Section 71(2) redefined the mandate of the Fund to the provision of “Social Security Insurances services other than pension.”
4.0 Employees Compensation Act 2010.
4.1 The Employees Compensation Act was passed into Law in December, 2010 by the assent of President Goodluck E. Jonathan, GCFR to give statutory backing to the mandate given by section 71(2) of the PRA to NSITF for the provision of Social Security Insurance Services by operating the ECS.
4.2 The transition between the NSITF Scheme and the commencement of the Employees Compensation Scheme in 2011 was a period that was devoted to mainly strategizing and ensuring that the Employees Compensation Scheme became a reality.
4.3 The objectives of the Act are:
i. To provide for an open and fair system of guaranteed and adequate compensation for all employees or their dependents for any death, injury, disease or disability arising out of or in the course of employment;
ii. To provide rehabilitation to employees with work disability as much as possible;
iii. To establish and maintain a solvent compensation fund managed in the interest of employees and employers;
iv. To provide for fair and adequate assessments for employers;
v. To provide an appeal procedure that is simple, fair and accessible, with minimal delays; and
vi. To combine efforts and resources of relevant stakeholders for the prevention of workplace disabilities, including the enforcement of occupational safety and health standard.
5.0 The funding of the scheme is based on 1% of payroll of employers remitted to the Fund.
In addition, the Fund, under Section 71 of the Pension Reform Act, 2004 is to provide “every contributing citizen Social Security Insurance Services other than Pension in accordance with the NSITF Act, 1993”. The Fund has commenced the process of putting in place the necessary infrastructure to implement Social Security Benefit to the aged, unemployed, child welfare and the physically challenged.
To this end, a bill for an amendment to the provisions of the NSITF Act to provide basic social security services to all Nigerians before the National Assembly for passage into law.
Based on the outcome of the report of the committee chaired by former Head of state which underscored the urgency for the need to provide Social Security to vulnerable Nigerians. NSITF has commenced putting in place the necessary infrastructure to ensure the collection of data of all the categories of those entitled to Social Security Benefit.
6.0 ACHIEVING THE OBJECTIVES OF THE EMPLOYEES’ COMPENSATION ACT (ECA)
7.0 At the moment, cases of industrial accidents, injuries and diseases are being promptly treated as they are reported in full compliance with the provisions of the Act and to the satisfaction of the stakeholders in pursuance of the following objectives of the ECA.