The Nigeria Association of Social Workers (NASoW), umbrella body for Social Workers in Nigeria has kicked against the substitution of “Nigeria Council for Social Work [Establishment] Bill 2019”, the bill which seeks to regulate the social profession of Social Work in Nigeria, for Chartered Institute of Social Work Practitioners Bill owned by the Institute of Social Work of Nigeria, (ISWON) by the National Assembly.
NASoW in a press statement signed by its National President, Alhaji Mashood Mustapha, and made available to journalists in Ibadan on Sunday by the Public Relations Officer of the association, Mr. Musliudeen Adebayo, asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign any bill that is not the Nigerian Council for Social Work Bill which will give full control of Social Work profession in Nigeria to the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
According to NASoW, the Senate on Wednesday May 15, 2019, passed the Nigeria Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill following a reconsideration.
Newspeakonline understands that the bill which had been in the National Assembly since 2012, had earlier been passed by the Senate in 2017 but was rejected by President Buhari in February 2018. The Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development in conjunction with NASoW, the ministries of Justice and Labour with the support of other relevant stakeholders made inputs to address the grey areas pointed out by the presdent. The reworked bill was then reconsidered and passed by the senate.
But on Sunday, NASoW President, Mustapha, expressed shock that the instead of transmitting the bill to President Buhari for assent, the National Assembly substituted it with the “Chartered Institute of Social Work Practitioners [Establishment] Bill 2019” which reportedly received accelerated hearing, passage and transmission to Buhari.
Mustapha lamented that “that his association views the development with suspicion, particularly the speed at which this was done and the glaring preference of the private business bill to a government controlled Council Bill. Chartered Institute Bill is alien to Social Work profession because social workers do not need chartered certificates to take care of the vulnerable and the voiceless. The chartered nonsense is highly ridiculous because there is nothing like chartered social workers, chartered nurses, chartered doctors etc in humanitarian professions.
“It would only make Social Workers laughing stocks in the committee of professionals. It is a primitive attempt to exploit and impoverish the social workers in Nigeria because the bill is seen by ISWON as a very lucrative business like oil and gold, hence the frantic and desperate struggle for the ownership of the bill and the attendant banditry. It is purely an economic struggle that is based on financial gains. The goal is profit maximization that would further impoverished our social workers and diminish the humanitarian ideals that we all stand for selfless service to humanity.
“The regulation of social work profession all over the world is always under the control of government and not under the control of private organizations, just like it is done in other professions like medicine, law, pharmacy and nursing.
“It is very painful that the National Assembly cannot read between the line. The bill is not a genuine commitment to social work development in Nigeria, it is not an altruism because what would be welfare to ISWON in terms of economic gains would be ill fare to all social workers and clients.”
Mustapha stated that “NASoW is a registered organisation with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria, founded on 16th October, 1975 and it is the only recognised professional body for all social workers in Nigeria. NASoW is an affiliate member of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) – world umbrella body for social workers with headquarter in Switzerland.”
He explained further that “in order to regulate and professionalise Social Work practice as obtainable in other developed countries, NASoW in conjunction with Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development sponsored a Bill which seeks to establish “The Nigeria Council for Social Work” (a regulatory arm of the Federal Government of Nigeria) which shall regulate the practice of Social Work in Nigeria. This Council shall have same powers like Dental and Medical Council, Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria.
“It is crystal clear in all the aforementioned professions that it is the Federal Government that regulates the practice while the practitioners come together to form association/unions that will cater for welfare of its members. Regulation of similar professions is done by the Federal Government of Nigeria which is the common practice in all countries of the world; and not by private individuals or organization.
According to Mustapha, “social work profession suffers one of the highest brain drain in Nigeria due to unfavourable conditions of practice. Social work intervention is needed in the justice system as prison welfare, parole and probation officers, after care and integration service, in health, as psychosocial therapists, resource mobilisers, advocates and rehabilitation officers among other services. The bill is the most important policy tool of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development. The time to get it right is now.”
He then stressed that: “In view of the foregoing, we are using this medium to call on all stakeholders and the general public to wade into this matter and advise Mr. President not to sign the Chartered Institute of Social Work Practitioners Bill into law apart from the Nigeria Council for Social Work Bill that would be fully controlled by government.
“Finally, we are urging all social workers in Nigeria especially registered NASoW members to be steadfast and continue to render their services to their clients in the professional manner they have been doing. The association is confident that President Buhari will not sign the Chartered Institute Bill in error.”