A Coalition of Rights of Older Persons, an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to speed up the implementation of Social Security Act to address the plight of older persons in the country.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, the President of the coalition, made the call in a document made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday ahead of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019.
He said when such bill is passed and assented by the president, that there would be safety net for the older persons to reduce their suffering.
He said there was need for a national policy in terms of health, economic and protection of their social and civil rights as priority.
Ajoku said if such bill is passed and the law is put in place that lack of respect for older persons will be minimised.
He further said that the organisation would use the upcoming event to create awareness on the plight of senior citizens and as well as provide avenue for discourse.
“The objective of the event is to help the older persons share experiences and to provide guidance with a view to devise a strategy that would strengthen the well being of older persons in Nigeria.
Ajoku alleged that the government had done very little to ameliorate the situation either through legislature, policies or education of the masses against elder abuse.
He disclosed that there was no national policy on ageing before the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs saw it as a priority in 2019, which he said was commendable.
He further said that it was imperative for all hands to be on deck to ensure that the policies were translated into action in order to address the issues faced by the elderly.
He listed the issues faced by the elderly as verbal abuse, financial exploitation and forced confinement, among others, must be addressed.
He also said that quality and accessible healthcare as well as social protection for the elderly must be at the forefront of stakeholders agenda.
He added that one in 10 older Nigerian were abused or neglected each year and only one in 14 of such cases came to the authorities’ attention.
He however admonished government to improve on the healthcare system at the rural level especially the healthcare clinics to cater for the elderly ones.
“I suggest that Gerontology should be thought in our tertiary institutions to prepare our youths for ageing as well as teach them on how to respect and treat ageing parents.
“There should be a regular campaign by NOA and Ministry of Information in order to educate and create continuous awareness of the older persons plight.
“Religious organisations such as churches and mosques are encouraged to teach and remind their followers to care for their ageing parents.
“Older Nigerians are vital contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes us all,” Ajoku said.
He noted that elder abuse awareness day was a reminder that as a society, we have a critical role to play in ensuring that elder justice is sustained.
He however called on everyone to join in lifting up of voices in the fight against elder abuse.
According to him, the year’s theme is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront experiences of older persons around the globe.
Ajoku maintained that if government at all levels pay pensions and stipends regularly to older persons their plight would be reduced.
He therefore urged government at all levels to create day care facilities as well as community based care system for older persons, stressing that it will help curb abuse and maltreatment faced by these category of citizens.