By ODIMMEGWA JOHNPETER / ABUJA
Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari has urged the second Ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament holding in Abuja to come up with policies that will tend to support the older persons in the society.
The Nigerian President speech was presented by Senator George Akume at the conference on the right of Older People hosted by the ECOWAS Parliament meeting in Abuja.
While noting that it is an entrenched Africa culture to always respect the rights of the older persons in the society, he lamented that the culture is gradually declining because of the undue influence of the Western cultures.
He said, “As you all know aging is a lifelong process that initiated and terminated by nature. Globally, the general trends in ageing process are identical but the approaches adopted by different government determine the extent of human rights compliances. In every African society, older persons are usually respected and give a place of honour,.
“With western civilization, some of these traditional processes that bestow honour and respect on the older persons are on the decline. It is the duty of African to bring back such glory and honor to their older ones. We cannot fold our arms and expect others to do these for us.
“This conference has come up to afford us the opportunity to take up some of these responsibilities. Therefore, I urge all African countries here represented to take back to their home countries that we need to wake up to the challenges of older persons in the region. We also need to collaborate and join efforts with other nations of the World including international communities to fight for the rights of older persons globally;”
The Nigerian President elucidated more or the efforts of his government to make life better for the older persons, “In our efforts towards addressing the rights of older persons, the Nigerian government has put up some measures including the Senior Citizens Act of 2018. The Act mandates all tiers of government to establish national citizens centers to provide care, training for the older ones,”
President Buhari noted further that his said the government of Nigeria also harmonized its pension scheme to eliminate all hitches in pension administration, while hinting that the public servants are engaged in mandatory pre-retirement training to ensure that they utilize their pensions.
He maintained that his government is also working assiduously towards attaining other benefits for the older person such as trying to subsidizing their medical expenses in public hospitals and social welfare services.
“The Nigerian government through the N-Power programme has been able to identify some older persons who enjoy the periodic cash disbursement as sustenance stipends.
He said that the scheme had identified over two million poor households and over one million currently benefitting.
“It is important to remind ourselves as Africans that care for older persons is culturally and traditionally rooted and highly respected in African societies. Nigeria is not an exception to this. However, modalities and approaches to these are frequently reviewed to address the current peculiar realities of civilization. FG is studying the Protocol on the African Charter to Human and Peoples Rights on the right of older persons in Africa and this would be ratified in due course,” He concluded
The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse-Lo, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker of the regional parliament, Ahmed Wase, said the aim of the conference was to come up with a solution to catering for the aged in the society.
He urged the parliament and members of the community to collaborate and ensure that the protocols on the issue of the aged persons were implemented.
Mr. Cisse-Lo gave assurance that ECOWAS would give its maximum co-operation and support to the society and the people to ensure that older people were accorded their rights.
The Executive Secretary of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC), and vice-chair, Global Alliance of Human Rights Institute (GANHRI) in his welcome address and acknowledgement stated that highly placed persons in society on account of their knowledge are highly appreciated. He also highlighted on the demographic increase of aged person in society which should be a source of concern for the government.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande said that it was critical for him to be at the occasion because the situation needed to be given more attention because of the rising population of older persons.
He said that it was not just enough for laws to be made, but for policies to be made and implemented as it was key to improving the situation.
Professor Muhammad-Bande gave assurance of UN’s readiness to work closely with Africa to ensure that the rights of older people were upheld.