By Lesley Muosowo Otu
Former President of the Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Ms. Evelyn Onyilo has said that a commission for the protection of older persons should be made a matter of priority by the Federal Government.
She said this in her keynote address at the opening of a 5-day training workshop, organised by Dave Omokaro African Institution on Ageing and Development in collaboration with NAWOJ on Monday in Abuja.
She said the establishment of the commission would be achieved, if part of Abacha loot is used to ensured the well-being of our senior citizens.
Onyilo also stressed the need for government to put on ground social security policies for the elderly persons, especially who do not have children or abandoned by their families.
Ms. Onyilo, who is also the Founder of the Initiative for Women’s Accelerated Development in Africa (INWOAD), condemned the attitude of the stakeholders towards the elderly people.
“The growing number of older persons during the last few decades has significantly impacted on the political, economical and social functions of the society both in industrialised and developing regions” she said.
According to her, the society has pivotal role to play in sustaining the issues concerning empowerment of the elderly, especially with the new trend of early retirement.
Also, the Chairman of Nigerian Union of journalists, FCT Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche noted that, of all social protection programmes by the government, none was targeted towards the welfare of our senior citizens.
He therefore urged government to look critically on the needs of the elderly persons and create avenue for their welfare and protection.
The Founder of of DOFRIAD, Dr Emem Omokaro, observed that going by the 2013 population census, there were no fewer than 10 million elderly men and women in Nigeria as of year 2020, adding that, at a growth rate of 3.2%, the number is expected to increase to 28 million by 2050.
“With varied intrinsic capacities, older persons continue to contribute to families, communities and the larger society in economic, social, political and cultural spheres.
“However, a larger of these older persons work in informal settings on substance level without social pension. While those in the public sector with contributory pension are entering retirement age when economic and social support system including long term care are yet to be put in place”.
Omokaro, who is also the Convener, Stakeholders Group on Ageing in Africa (SGA), emphasised the need for long term palliative care, social protection, friendly environment for the older persons.