By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja, – The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund has assured that the ongoing digitisation of its operations will promote digital inclusion and enhance its capacity for an improved social security to Nigerians.
Dr Michael Akabogu, Managing Director of the Fund, said this in Marrakech, Morocco at the World Social Security Forum over the weekend.
He said this in a statement signed by Mrs Ijeoma Okoronkwo, General Manager, Corporate Affairs in the NSITF on Sunday in Abuja.
Akabogu, while moderating a discussion entitled “Digital inclusion: Improving Social Security Service Delivery”, noted that with the growing digital inclusion in Nigeria, there were expanding number of Nigerians with access to internet-based communication.
According to him, the digitisation of the NSITF will exploit the growing gateway to information for seamless delivery of services.
“Digital inclusion is basically getting everyone online without exclusion and giving them the necessary equitable access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT)for improved social and economic life.
“Digital inclusion as a tool for the improvement of social security service delivery, is driven by the elastic impacts which internet-based digital platforms with its widening access to information could weigh on social security provision.
“Even as uneven as access to Internet is between the rich and poor nations, our organisation is shaping up to tap into the full benefits of growing digital inclusion in Nigeria,’’ he said.
He added that the challenge, however, was how a social security organisation, positioned to utilise digital inclusion for the improvement of the social welfare of the people, can effectively carry out this role.
“How do we bridge the digital divide to ensure that citizens of all classes benefit maximally through an unfettered access to our services?”
The NSITF boss noted that as digital transformation accelerated, its benefits and challenges with respect to digital inclusion were emphasised.
He said, “ for this reason , securing equitable access and inclusion of all communities in an increasingly digital society wa a vital cross-cutting theme in the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda.”
On the import of the global phenomenon on Nigeria’s experience, Akabogu explained that digital inclusion was a great push to the efforts by the NSITF to grow social security, especially in the informal sector where over 70 per cent of Nigerians earned their living .
“In Nigeria, our agency is a cardinal organisation in the social security agenda in a country where the rural and urban poor constitute a great majority and where the over 70 per cent are in the informal sector.
“For us to achieve part of the United Nations Sustainable Goals on ‘Leave no one behind’ (LNOB), we had to expand our social service goal to the doorstep of this majority in the informal sector.
“This is where with the growing access to Internet, we hope to make considerable gains in no distant time,’’ he said.
Akabogu noted that, “Leave no one behind (LNOB)” represented the unequivocal commitment of all UN member states.
He added that Nigeria was part of that commitment to eradicate poverty in all its forms, end discrimination and exclusion and reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities that left people behind and undermined the potential of individuals and of humanity as a whole.
“An agency like ours where prompt service delivery – whether it is registration, certification, claims, compensation for injuries and death and investigation is pivotal, digital inclusion means so much, hence the urgency to digitise our operations.
“In real terms, we are headed to a point where a registered rural trader in Akwanga, Nasarawa State North Central Nigeria or Eket, Akwa-Ibom in the far South South” become inclusive.
“That is those who suffer injury in the course of work, report through our digital platforms and get attention in 24 hours, investigated and compensated in five working days.
“We are geared for an era where our primary role, which is accident prevention rides on the seamless trunk of digitisation and digital inclusion to the ends of our country,” he said.
He, therefore, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for its support for the strategic reforms of the NSITF, central to which is the digitisation of all its process, saying the fund’s management would not rest on its oars.(NAN)