The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq has urged older persons in the country to make inputs and participate in the maiden dialogue with National Senior Citizens.
In her address during the maiden dialogue with the Senior Citizens Forum held on Monday in Abuja, the minister said that the federal government under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has developed the National Policy on Ageing and also established the National Senior Citizens Centre to meet the challenges of older persons in the country.
Umar Farouq stated that hunger, poverty as well as the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated government’s decision to tailor efforts at including the vulnerable population.
“In developing the National Policy on Ageing and establishing the National Senior Citizens Center, the government of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, has ensured, that the very essential institutions, systems and mechanisms to facilitate the quality of life, economic and social participation of older persons are guaranteed and that the challenges of older persons and the opportunities that accrue from meeting these challenges are integrated into Nigeria’s development plans.
“I am delighted to say that with the establishment of the National Senior Citizens Center, the concerns of older persons are no longer handled in a discretionary and arbitrary manner but are now addressed comprehensively, as detailed in the National Senior Citizens Act and the National Policy on Ageing, which is soon to be operationalized by NSCC. The now instituted Older Persons Safety-net Program which targets very poor and vulnerable older persons, attest to the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to age-inclusive development.”
Earlier, the Director General of the National Senior Citizens Centre Dr. Emem Omokaro applauded the Senior Citizens for their resilience in the face of hardship, suffering, neglect and abuse over the years. She also thanked the Minister for her passionate efforts.
“Today we have the National Policy on Ageing and the Senior Citizens Centre. The next thing is that we need to talk. This dialogue is important so that senior citizens will know their rights and what is being handed to them by the law. There is no way we can identify the needs of senior citizens and cater to those needs as directed by the act without forging an engagement mechanism”.
Senior Citizens representing various categories including the urban and rural, the military and paramilitary as well as the public and private sectors attended the dialogue which seeks to find out the major problems facing the elderly as enumerated by them.
There were goodwill messages from the Chairman Governing Board National Senior Citizens Centre AVM Mohammed A. Mohammed (rtd.) President, Nigerian Union of Pensioners Comrade Godwin Abumusi, AVM Konye Robert Ekezie, Chairman Abuja branch for Senior Citizens from the Armed Forces, Amb. Usman Saki representing seniors from the Diplomatic community, the WHO Country Representative Dr Walter Kazadi and Olori Esther Oni Ashafa for the Older Women and Traditional Institutions.
The Senior Citizens Centre and the National Policy on Ageing were established to take care of the social welfare of older persons including leisure, health care, pension, rehabilitation, income security, supplementary income, skills development among others social protection safety nets.
NNEKA IKEM ANIBEZE