The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and stakeholders in the social works sector have called on the national assembly to ensure speedy passage of a bill to professionalise social work.
The bill for an act to establish the Nigerian council for social work seeks to regulate the practice of social work in the country.
The lawmakers had passed it but it was declined assent to by President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in the year.
At the time the president rejected the bill, he told the lawmakers that it did not clarify the scope of the “profession of ‘social work’ that this bill prohibits all persons who are not members of the institute from practising.”
Speaking during a media dialogue in Enugu on Tuesday, Maryam Enyiazu, UNICEF’s child protection specialist, said the bill, if passed, would raise status of social work and also bring about legitimacy to the profession.
“Nigeria is yet to understand the need for social welfare workers in the country,” she said, adding: “The services of social welfare workers improve the lives of children and families by addressing, education, health, justice, migration and protection from violence.”
She also said UNICEF had been working with the federal government to raise the standards of social work in the country and has helped develop a national plan of action on social welfare work force
Other experts who spoke identified the lack of understanding of the scope of social work and lack of adequate care for soial workers as factors militating against the profession.
Temitope Bamgboye, director of social welfare department, ministry of women affairs and social development, expressed hope the president would sign the bill into law when it is reworked.
Represented by Ben Okwesa, an assistant director at the ministry, Bamgboye said: “The identified grey areas of the bill is receiving attention and with strong support from UNICEF and national assembly. The ministry also intends to ensure that the bill is endorsed by Mr. President.”