By Fred Itua and Christian Okwor
Their hearts leaped with joy and the beneficiaries voiced their enthusiasm as the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Abuja branch, donated food items and medical aid to the aged to mark the United Nations International Day of Older People (UNIDOP) in Karimo, a suburb of Abuja, where they shared bags of rice, corn, millet, noodles, bread, clothes and detergent, among others, and also administered drugs and medical care to hundreds of elderly people.
UNIPO was the brainchild of the UN General Assembly. It came into force on December 14, 1990, and is intended to raise awareness about problems affecting senior citizens, senility and the contributions of the aged in the development of societies.
It was observed that in Nigeria, there is no legal framework to protect the right to care and survival of the aged. In line with this, FIDA has risen to the challenge by way of humanitarian care.
Chairperson of FIDA, Abuja branch, Mrs. Ngozi Ikenga, said the rights of the aged are mostly abused in Nigeria: “In essence, older persons, as part of society, have a right to care and survival. This care could be physical, medical, and socio-economic care. In most cases, these rights are denied them or they are unable to get it because there are no strong legislations that make for the welfare of older persons in Nigeria.
Disclosing the relevance of a legal framework to protect the rights of the aged, the publicity secretary of FIDA, Abuja branch, Francisca Chukwuani, said, the National Assembly should put into law favourable legal frameworks and implement the Gender Opportunity Bill to grant equal rights to care and survival for the aged.
“We must look into our legislation. Presently, there is no legislation that protects the welfare of the aged. The National Assembly, the government and all responsible persons should look into this and support and promote legislation that would take care of the aged. We have started today by supporting the United Nations principle on the promotion of the welfare of the aged. I can assure you that FIDA Nigeria will support the promotion of this bill,” she said.
Some of the beneficiaries of the gesture expressed their appreciation to FIDA and urged the Federal Government to assist them. Larasa Haruna, one of the beneficiaries, urged the Federal Government to empower them.
Another senior citizen, Mary Haruna, she said: “Because of the hardship in the country, we are suffering. The little things we get from our farm are not enough to take care of our families. People now go to our farms and steal our farm products. This is because there is hunger in the land. We want the Federal Government to help us. The hunger is too much.”
Liyatu Solomon said: “I am happy for FIDA remembering us, but our problem is unemployment. When our children finish school, they don’t have work. We are praying that God will open ways for us so that our children will get work. I want government to provide employment for our children.”