Nigeria’s Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Betta Edu, has reiterated President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s determination to accord dignity to senior citizens by giving them a new lease of life in line with the Renewed Hope Mandate.
Speaking Tuesday at the National Senior Citizen Centre’s, (NSCC) maiden Programme and Services Fair in Abuja, the Minister said Seniors Citizens are adequately factored in all the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration.
According to her, “the federal government is mainstreaming older persons into social protection programs, Health and Social Care; building senior centers to promote social connections and care among older persons, encouraging recreation and intergenerational cross learning”
The Minister disclosed that her Ministry was working in tandem with its mandate to support NSCC to evolve Multi-purpose Cooperatives to cascade the indigenous ventures and auxiliary productive activities of older persons within communities to expand the inclusion of more numbers and ensure access to micro-loan schemes and markets.
“The Ministry is also working in the area of its mandate to ensure older persons receive social support, peculiar to their age-specific challenges – notably the mitigation of absolute poverty among very poor and vulnerable older persons through the Grant for senior citizens. Dr. Edu added.
She described the fair as an innovative effort by NSCC to promote the needed awareness and understanding of its mandate, its strategic approach to delivering outcomes for the different target sub-populations of older persons, with their peculiar challenges, and to exploit the economic growth opportunities they present.
Dr. Edu applauded the Centre’s initiative to set aside a day for the viewing of its programs and services, which, she said, it has not only developed through processes and mechanisms that enable older persons and stakeholders’ participation in the conduct of national needs assessments but also in the program conceptualization, designs and the pilot and the monitoring and evaluation phases.
“I believe this FAIR will promote positive attitudes about aging and older persons, and encourage increasing policy shift towards equity and more inclusion of older people in all sector programs” The private sector needs to come into the space to support the various initiatives” she maintained.
Earlier in her address, the Director-General of the Centre, Dr. Emem Omokaro said the fair was geared towards sharing NSCC’s innovative and transformative actions aimed at improving quality of life and wellbeing for older persons.
Omokaro said the center is also to make the human rights and business as well as economic growth case for equity and inclusion of older persons in sustainable development through the Centre’s exhibitions.
Enumerating the challenges facing senior citizens in Nigeria, Dr. Omokaro stated: “Older persons’ right to equality, dignity non-discrimination, lack of income Security, Psychosocial wellbeing, lack of appropriate healthcare, independence, participation etc are majorly affected by ageism – negative stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination of older persons on the bases of age.
“Also, the overarching pessimistic message of aging is that older persons are non-contributing rail members of society and economic burden. Other challenges are exacerbated by ageism leading to exclusion and heightened vulnerabilities”
The DG further lamented that older persons experience discrimination in social protection systems and humanitarian emergency mechanisms which manifest respectively in inadequate pension benefits, lack of access to affordable healthcare, limited social assistance, and right assistance and support for those in need.
Highpoint of the event attended by the UN representative, and other development partners was the launch of the “Older Persons Indigenous Craft and Skills Empowerment Programme for Sustainable Community Development in Nigeria” by the Minister, Dr. Betta Edu.
Rasheed Olanrewaju Zubair (ANIPR),
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Honourable Minister, FMHAPA.