Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi at the weekend signed the Social Security Bill into Law. He said the law was borne out of his administration's concern for the welfare of the elderly.
Fayemi said the social security scheme, which offers indigent elderly citizens a monthly stipend of N5,000, is not a vote-catching gimmick as is being insinuated in some quarters.
He spoke on Friday at the Executive Council Chambers of the Governor's Office in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, while signing the law. The governor said it was important for the scheme, which started six months ago, to have a legal backing, in order to ensure its sustainability.
The Ekiti Social Security Scheme, which is the first in Nigeria and West Africa, was announced by the governor on October 1, 2011. Payment of the monthly stipend commenced on October 25.
Fayemi said: "When we initiated the scheme, sceptics thought it was a vote-catching gimmick of a typical opportunistic and desperate politician. "Even to genuine admirers, the realisation of this dream was unfathomable, given the limited resources available in our state. Now that the goal is realised, it is the beginning of the fulfillment of our campaign promise to provide for our elderly.
He said: "It is noteworthy that a number of states, as well as the Federal Government, have shown interest in this scheme and we are glad to have pioneered it. The question my colleagues always ask at the Governors' Forum is how we manage to do all this, given our 35th position on the revenue table."
House of Assembly Speaker Adewale Omirin said: "We are here today making history as the first state in West Africa to initiate a social security system for the aged. We know the critical roles senior citizens play in our lives and the society at large.
"We must always emphasise custom and history as components of social engineering mechanism for development. It is our custom to take care of our aged."
Omirin said the scheme has challenged the Federal Government to start the process of establishing a national social security scheme.
Commissioner for Labour, Productivity and Human Capital Development, Wole Adewumi said the state began paying stipends to 10,084 beneficiaries last October. He said another round of registration has begun to update the database and increase the number of beneficiaries to 20,000.
Source: The Nation, Lagos
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