Stakeholders call for passage of social work professionalisation bill
Stakeholders have called on the National Assembly to expedite actions in ensuring speedy passage of the Social Work Professionalisation Bill aimed at regulating social work practice and profession in the country.
At the opening of a Two-day Media Dialogue in Enugu on Tuesday, the stakeholders unilaterally agreed that the passage of the bill would strengthen the social work profession in Nigeria.
They said the passage would also allow those who study social work related discipline take up the profession rather than the situation where the unprofessionals venture into the business.
In his remarks, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Field Officer, Enugu, said the social-economic challenges had continued to undermine sustainable development for vulnerable children and their families, hence the need for the passage of the bill.
Conteh, who was represented by Mrs Maureen Zubie-Okolo, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Enugu, said social work played critical role in supporting the vulnerable population more effectively.
“Issues of high prevalence of violence against children, conflicts, terrorism, high number of out of school children and unemployment rate amongst other challenge calls for the passage of the social work bill.
” The bill seeks to establish a regulatory framework to improve the standard of practice for anyone wishing to practice social work as you have in engineering, medical, legal professions. amongst others.”
In a similar view, Miss Maryam Enyiazu, Child Right Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said social workers of about 8,429 cannot address the challenges of social work in Nigeria.
Enyiazu explained that 70 per cent Nigerian population were facing one form of vulnerability or the other in which the 8,429 social workers cannot address.
She said out of the social workers, only 2 per cent are professional hence the need for the professionalisation of the bill to help streamline the problems in the profession.
She added that with the professionalisation of the bill, it would address a lot of challenges endangering the lives of the vulnerable ranging from poverty, violence, joblessness, inadequate training and the rest.
According to her, strengthening the social welfare workforce will better protect children and the vulnerable and at the same time achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In a country where too many people are made vulnerable due to poverty, social exclusion, inequality and social injustice, social workers create protective environment for healthy development and well-being by tackling poverty.
” There is therefore need to join hand to ensure we have a strong social welfare workforce.
” This is because the SDGs cannot be achieved without a strong and locally-based social service workforce. ”
She added that Nigeria in 2014 lost 8.9billion dollars to violence against children which translated to 1.58 per cent of the GDP.
She, however, said that the factor that prevented the president from assenting to the bill was ‘under appreciated field of work’.
Also, Mr Olumide Osanyinpeju, Deputy Director, Child Right Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information, said social workers in Nigeria had been given less attention.
Osanyinpeju noted the only way to boost the profession in Nigeria was through the establishment of a regulatory mechanism to ensure licensure, certification and registration.
He, however, appealed the National Assembly to return to work and ensure the passage of the bill.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that UNICEF in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and Nigeria Association of Social Workers introduced a bill for the establishment of Nigeria Council for Social Work to National Assembly in 2015.
The bill raised at the senate by the then senate leader, Senator Ali Ndume passed through the first reading but still awaiting further legislative action.
The bill, however, suffered setbacks as President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to the bill and returned it to the National Assembly for further clarification on the scope of social work in Nigeria. (NAN)