News Analysis

On The Proposed National Senior Citizens Centre

Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq said the federal government was trying to set up a special centre to monitor the situation of elderly men and women in the country.

The centre is called the National Senior Citizens Centre.

Essentially, the National Senior Citizens Centre when it becomes operational is to facilitate section 16 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring that old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.

Hajia Farouq made the announcement during a meeting with the Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria, COSROPIN in Abuja.

According to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian which announced this on its twitter handle, the take-off of the National Senior Citizens Centre is on the way.

The minister assured the members that her ministry was working to ensure that the Centre was set up and operational, assuring the group of her full support.

She added that many of them had served the country during their active ages and still have a lot to contribute because of their experience.

Hajia Farouq noted that the ministry would not relent on its oars to give due importance to the issues involved while ensuring that they were consulted during the establishment of the National Senior Citizens Centre.

The minister maintained that there is a law which allowed the establishment of the Centre and when it comes into operation, its activities would include identifying the needs of these seniors, developing programmes to engage them, provision of amenities in sports, education, health and leisure facilities for the full enjoyment of life for the elderly.

At the Centre, development and implementation of schemes to provide income or supplementary earnings for the aged citizens, record keeping and statistics concerning the senior citizens would be a priority while the Centre will partner sub-national, national and international bodies in achieving its objectives.

Hajia Farouq assured the group of her support, adding that the elders were among the category of people whom the ministry was concerned about.

In the coming years, the ageing population in Nigeria is expected to increase in numbers and life expectancy rates will gradually increase with significant social and economic implications to the individuals and the government.

At present, the old-age dependency ratio is not high compared with the developed nations and this serves as pointer to problems to come.

At this juncture, it is pertinent that a national policy on the care and welfare of older persons enacted since March 2003 which had remained in the draft form be enacted for proper care of these category of people.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Senior Citizens Centre Bill, into law on the twenty-six of January 2018, two years after it was first introduced into the House of Representatives.

It came with the promise of a new dawn for Nigeria’s nine point six million elderly citizens, who are aged sixty and above. 

It is therefore of utmost importance that government match their words with action by putting all necessary machinery in motion for the operation of the National Senior Citizens Centre as this would make life more comfortable for elderly.

Titilayo Kupoliyi

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