The Federal Government has promised harnessing the potential of an aging population, assuring of its commitment to improve the quality of life and well being of Nigerians.
The assurance was given on Tuesday, 3 October, 2023, by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, while delivering an address at the International Day of Older Persons ceremony at the UN House in Abuja.
Speaking at the event with the theme: “Fulfilling the promise of the universal declaration of human rights for older persons across generations,” which was organised by the UN and the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), Edu commended the establishment of the NSCC by the NSCC Act 2017 to promote mainstreaming of older persons in the delivery of positive outcomes for the aged.
She assured of President Bola Tinubu’s move to reposition the ministry demonstrated the government’s political will to develop mechanisms and achieve the desired goals.
Edu said such would ensure sustainable systems to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of Nigerans, as well as progressively lift 133 million Nigerians out of poverty.
She noted that: “The NSCC remains the veritable agency to consolidate opportunities for the older population, in partnership with the various Ministries, Department and Agencies through multi-sectoral coordination.
Edu promised that: “The present administration will ensure adequate support; persuasion of the state governments to domesticate the NSCC Act , VAPP Act, Persons with Disability Act and National Health Authority Act.
“The present administration will focus on harnessing the potential of an aging population, combat ageism and negative stereotypes and close the gaps and inconsistencies in data.
She added that the administration would focus on research, human capital development and continue to create systems capable of supporting older persons, including age friendly environments, universal health coverage and long term care systems.
On his part, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, reassured of UN’s support for Nigeria in the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons.
Schmale commended the event for being tailored to provide opportunity for reflection on the impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the protection of the rights of older persons.
He said: “It is my sincere hope that today’s dialogue will allow for reflections on effective promotion and protection of older persons in Nigeria, focusing on their contributions throughout their life, for the knowledge and expertise they can pass on to younger generations.
“As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the UN in Nigeria is committed to supporting Nigeria’s efforts towards enhancing the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons.
“Especially, older persons living in vulnerable situations and making the promise of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights a reality for all Nigerians.”
The Director-General of NSCC, Dr Emem Omokaro, identified universally declared rights of older persons to include right to life, liberty, and security of person, freedom from discrimination, abuse, violence and torture, right to work and education; and right to participate in cultural, social, and political life of their country and right to economic empowerment, access to justice, disability and age friendly environment.
Omokaro said: “Today, we wish to present highlights of IE’s Report and Nigeria’s response, and have a multi-sectoral panel of discussants to make inputs.
“The outcomes we hope will enhance understanding of opportunities and challenges of older persons.
“(To) strengthen partnerships and technical support, increased aging mainstreaming in multi-sector plans, the SDGs, equity and solidarity across generations”