Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017: Forum Seeks Buhari’s Assent

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A group of professional and trained Social Workers across Nigeria, Forum of Concerned Professional and Trained Social Workers in Nigeria (FCPTSWN), has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017 he earlier rejected some weeks ago without wasting more time.   The group in a statement made available to journalists on Tuesday by its spokesperson, Mr. Musliudeen Adebayo noted that Nigerian Council for Social Work bill which has been passed by the two houses of the National Assembly, when assented to by the President will serve as one of his major achievements “because it will address various socioeconomic and political problems militating against the existence of Nigeria and its people”. 
 
While calling on Nigerians to support it in ensuring that “Nigerian Council of Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017” is sign by the President without further delay, FCPTSWN lamented that it was surprised that some elements under the guise of Institute of Social Work of Nigeria (ISWON) led by one John Emaimo (Executive Director) and Eze Ifem (President) are sponsoring another bill “Chartered institute of social work practitioners”, which is not only in conflict with the existing bill but tends to cause confusion. 
 
FCPTSWN while pledging its support to Nigeria Association of Social Workers (NASoW), the umbrella body of Social Workers in the country, NASWE, AMSWON and other relevant bodies in kicking against what it called a broad day robbery on the profession of Social Work, noted that the bill introduced by ISWON would not only regulate, control and relegate the profession of social work and its practitioners, it will make Social Workers in the country, NASOW, NASWE and AMSWON among other bodies irrelevant because, ISWON, by the provision of the proposed bill will be the only body controlling Social Work and its practitioners in Nigeria.  
 
The group in the petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, copies which were sent to Office of the Vice President, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Director General, Department of State Service, Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives, International Federation of Social Workers among others, appealed to those in positions of authorities to prevail on the National Assembly especially the House of Representatives to stop further work on the bill introduced by Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga (Abakaliki/Izzi, Ebonyi State) which would be in conflict with Nigerian Council of Social Work bill.   
 
FCPTSWN while calling on Social Workers across the country to resist any attempt to subject them to antics and plans of ISWON to silence them, urged NASoW to call a meeting that will be open to all interested members as a way of finding lasting solutions and provide ways to which the Council bill would be sign and put a stop to the conflicting bill introduced by ISWON which can only relegate them to the background, should it allowed to be passed.  
 
The group while calling attention of relevant bodies to a planned meeting slated for this week in Abuja which has been postponed noted with concern that such meeting should not be a 20, 25 or 30 man meeting but the one that will be encompasing; open to all members because such meeting where future of Social Work and Social Workers is to be decided should not be left in the hands of some few individuals. 
 
The group while speaking further lamented that despite threats from some individuals and groups to truncate its efforts in rescue Social Work from hands of usurpers noted that the group will not rest on its oars to ensure that such injustice on the profession and the professionals is not allowed to stand. 
 
The group while calling relevant agencies including security agencies to give its petition the necessary consideration it deserved, urged House of Representatives to stop further reading on the bill which was targeted to sabotage the age long efforts of social workers in Nigeria in ensuring that Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017 see the light of the day. 
 
 
Full letter…
                                                                                                                                    27th February, 2018.
 
President Muhammadu Buhari,
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Aso Villa, Abuja. 
 
Dear Sir,
 
Re: Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017: Forum appeal to Buhari, petitions NASS over conflicting bill
 
We are a group of professional and trained Social Workers across Nigeria, under the umbrella of Forum of Concerned Professional and Trained Social Workers in Nigeria (FCPTSWN). We are surprised with what is happening in the profession of Social Work today. 
 
We have a bill “Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017” which had been passed by the two house of National Assembly but was rejected by President Buhari through a letter he sent to the Senate on Tuesday 6th February. Our bill intends to regulate the practice of Social Work and the practitioners in Nigeria.  
 
We are using this medium to appeal to appeal to you Sir, President Muhammadu Buhari to sign our bill which you rejected some weeks.  We are waiting for the President to append his signature by signing the bill without further delay. 
 
We have send correspondences to International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) UNICEF and other relevant bodies to save us from this mess. We are not in competition with NASoW which is the umbrella body of Social Workers in Nigeria. This group is not a parallel exco, it was formed as a child of necessity to provide necessary support to NASoW and relevant bodies to endure that the Council bill see the light of the day and to put a stop to conflicting ISWON bill. We are not in competition with NASoW, we are to bridge the gap that existed within and outside the system. 
 
Final signing of our bill, Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017 will serve as one of the major achievements of President Buhari because it will address array of social problems confronting Nigeria and her people. 
 
The bill which is in conflict with our bill is not only detrimental but will subject social workers who have earned degrees in degree awarding institutions up to PhD level to another certification.
 
Look at ISOWN Bill, it reads “An act to establish the Chartered institute of social work practitioners, and to make provision, among other things for membership and control the profession of social work; and other related matters. (HB 1258). (Hon, Sylvester Ogbaga). 
This is directly in conflict with the Council bill. We don’t need a soothsayer to tell use that ISWON wishes to hijack, relegate and regulate NASoW, Social Work and all Social workers including you and I in Nigeria. 
 
So, what is the fate of those who have earned degrees, diplomas, Masters or PhD in Social Work in tertiary institutions offering Social Work? Is this bill saying they are going to be subjected to another training through the money making chartered institute?
 
Based on this, we are of the opinon that all revelant bodies, President Buhari, Senate, House of Representatives, security agencies, NASoW, AMSWON, NASWE, UNICEF, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development should as a matter of urgency nip this abnormaliy immediately and challenge this broad day robbery on our profession. 
 
If ISWON bill is passed, which we are praying it shall not see the light of the day, those who have earned Diplomas, Degress, Masters and PhD in Social Work and even professors of Social Work will have to be certified by ISWON going by what the ISWON bill entails. 
 
We wish to inform you that members of this group have received threats from some individuals who asked us to stop the good work, but we remained resolute that with God, the giver of life, any weapon targeted against us shall not see the light of the day. We also appeal to you to use your good office and investigate this matter without further delay. 
 
We are aware that a meeting which has been postponed was called, we call on leadership of NASoW to make such meeting encompassing and open to all members irrespective of their positions. The meeting should not be restricted to NASoW, AMSWON, NASWE exco, chapter Chairmen and Secretaries alone, such meeting of high importance where future of Social Work would be decided should not be left in the hands of some selected individuals. Before such a meeting is called, a notice of at least one week must be given to members to prepare bearing in mind that all social workers are not in the same location. Details of such meeting including date, time, venue and agenda to be discussed must also be clearly stated. 
 
On this note, we wish to say it once again that we are appealing to President Buhari to assent our bill, “Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017″and urge House of Representatives of Nigeria to stop further work on the bill introduced by ISWON because it tends to usurp the functions of the Council of Social Work as being presented in Nigerian Council for Social Work (Establishment) Bill 2017. 
 
We are confident that you will use your good office and ensure that this injustice is totally eradicated in the profession of Social Work in Nigeria”. 
 
ENDS
 
 
CC: 
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo,
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and other senators of Federal Rebulic of Nigeria,
Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and other members of the House,
Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development,
Inspector General of Police,
Director General, Department of State Service,
UNICEF representative in Nigeria,
Secretary-General, The International Federation of Social Workers, Dr Rory G Truell. 
 
 
MUSLIUDEEN ADEBAYO, a university of Jos trained Social Worker and Journalist writes this petition on behalf of FCPTSWN. 

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