Over 120 million Nigerians living below the poverty line and working in the informal sector of the economy are not covered by any form of social security as practiced in other developed countries, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) has said.

Only those working in the public and organised private sector are benefiting from the Contributory Pension Scheme, Employee Compensation Scheme and the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Those in the informal sector were not benefiting, the fund said.

Speaking in Abuja at the weekend, NSITF’s General Manager for Social Security Ismail Agaka, said data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that 71 per cent of Nigerians are living below the poverty line and located in the informal sector.

According to him, the Employee Compensation Act, which is being implemented under the NSITF, was designed for the public sector and the organised private sector, pointing out that the fund could not operate outside government programmes.

Agaka said: “We have a situation whereby the formal sector employees mostly enjoy social security programmes. Meanwhile, there is ILO declaration that aims at extending social security to all by 2020.”

He claimed that NBS data of 2012 claimed that 71 per cent of Nigerians live below  the poverty line, which translates to about one dollar and 20 cents per day, meaning about 120 million of the citizens are very poor.

“This figure should give government more compelling reason to drive social security to the real poor largely located within the informal sector,” he said.

Admitting that organising the informal sector was not easy, Agaka suggested that the sector should be formalised through trade guilds and associations for the purpose of extending social security to the majority of the citizenry.

He urged the government to harmonise data generated by the National Identity Management Commission NIMC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Communication Commission (NCC) to midwife an effective and all-inclusive national social security programme for Nigerians.

He explained that though the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity is charged with regulating implementation of the country’s social security, it had not been empowered to carry out the function.

Agaka stressed the need to harmonise and coordinate various social security programmes executed in government’s ministries, departments and agencies, saying: “Nigeria does not have a structured social security yet.