The Honourable Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Prof. Stephen Ocheni has disclosed that the absence of Social Security data on the informal economy is an anomaly that contributes immensely to the exposure of workers to precarious and dangerous work conditions in the country.

The Minister disclosed this, today when he declared open a one day Capacity Building Workshop on the Collection of Credible Social Security Data for the informal economy in Nigeria for National Development.

According to the Minister ‘’In order to actualize all-inclusive economic policies of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Federal Ministry of Labour now seeks to promote Nigeria Decent work Agenda by extending Social Security Coverage to the Population in the informal sector’’. This according to him has become an important factor in the determination of the sustainability of the many nations’ economy. That must be recognized when discussing the sustainable economic development of our country as a whole.

Speaking further, Ocheni said that informal economy transcends a wide variety of unorganized and small-scale activities that have over time sustained the country’s urban and rural poor. The activities of this sector are largely deemed as survivalist, and are almost exclusively dependent on personal and risk-bearing initiative of the workers, he enthused

The Minister stressed that ‘’ statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveals that a significant portion of any nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is made up of the informal economy. Regrettably substantial number of people are found in the informal economy with little or no access to social security benefits, thus left vulnerable and with significant obstacles to economic and social development. Therefore, neglecting this all- important segment of the economy would be retrogressive and self-defeating as social security benefits are considered key instruments in the fight against poverty and are also important for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he concluded.

Earlier in his welcome address the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Bolaji Adebiyi represented by his Technical Adviser, Emmanuel Igbinosun said that the conference is taking place at a time, when major transformative change is on-going in our nation.

In his words ‘’ The contribution of statistics in this rapidly changing environment has become even of greater importance in this increasingly complex world, the availability of high quality statistics is vital in facilitating decision- making for both the private and public sectors of the economy especially now that the world has greater demands for higher levels of transparency’’

He emphasized that data collection requires a deep understanding of the economic system to make the right policy decisions. The fundamental basis for policy formulation in the informal economy needs rigorous assessments that provide insights to guide decision-making, hence the need for accurate and relevant collection of statistics of informal economy is pertinent adding that, the informal economy in particular, remains a major source of livelihood in many developing countries though faced with many challenges which makes it difficult to extend social security coverage’’.

In their separate goodwill messages, the country Director International Labour Organization (ILO), Dr. Dennis Zulu, and the representative of NECA, Adenike Ajala, appreciated the Federal Ministry and Employment for taking concrete steps in the direction of ensuring the promotion and collection of credible social security data from the Informal Economy in Nigeria.

The Director, social security department, Mrs. Dorcas Ajiboye in her vote of thanks, appreciated the social partners for their immense support in supporting the workshop.

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