The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara on Monday said that the house is committed to making laws that will improve the standard of living of the vulnerable in the country.
Dogara said this at a public hearing, organised by the Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development on the bill for an Act to protect the elderly and vulnerable persons along with five other five bills bothering on social welfare in Abuja.
Represented by the Deputy Minority Whip of the house, Rep. Binta Bello, Dogara said that the primary purpose of government is the security and wellbeing of the citizens.
“No nation can lay claim to civilisation and development without a clear policy, structured to take care of the less privileged.
“The House of Representatives is committed to making laws that will go a long way to raise the standard of living and creating a favourable condition for an all-inclusive development.
“We owe are society the duty and responsibility to take care of their welfare especially where is a lacuna in the system,” he said.
He said that the bills concentrate on the welfare of the vulnerable, elderly, women, children, disabled, the sick, unemployed, orphans and the general less privileged.
He urged the committee to exercise its legislative judgement wisely in the general interest of the nation.
Dogara charged the committee to concentrate on matters on the exclusive list and allow the States Houses of Assembly to make laws for matters on the residual list.
He said that matters should be carefully looked into to avoid duplication of the mandate of an already existing agency unless when it is inevitable.
He said where necessary, existing laws can be amended to give more powers and expand the scope of an existing agency to better performance.
In her remarks, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Stella Ugwu (Enugu-PDP) said that the public hearing was an opportunity for stakeholders to make contributions to the bill before it is passed.
She said the target persons are very important and that that the vulnerable are represented in every family cross the country.
Also, Rep. Enitan Badre (Lagos-APC) the sponsor of the bill for an Act to Act to protect the elderly and vulnerable persons said that the bill seeks to criminalise the exploitation of the vulnerable.
He said orphans are often left out of school while the signature of elderly persons are often forged and their money and properties taken.
Badre said there was no law directly criminalising such acts which are often carried out by greedy close relatives driven by quest for inheritance and question for inheritance.
The legislator said that the bill proposes a minimum jail term of three years for offenders and instant retrieval of monies and properties illegally acquired.
In her remarks, the Executive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation, Dr. Emem Omakaro said that the bills seek to provide legislative architecture for the operation of social protection.
Omokaro called the attention of the committee to National Social Protection policy of the Federal Government.
She explained that the policy which was drafted both by local and International stakeholders had been published by the government.
According to her, plans are ongoing to cascade the policy to the states across the federation for effective implementation.
Amokaro explained that the contents and values of the national policy which has a portfolio of not less than 60 projects, is anchored on three pillars of social transfer, social insurance and labour market programme.
She said that the the implementation of the policy which is targeted at indigent Nigerians and domiciled in the office of the Special Advice to the President on Social Investment, had commenced in some areas.
She recommended that the committee meet with the operators of the policy address issues of duplication of functions.