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Nigeria needs elder rights and privileges bill

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By Abiodun Okunloye

The bill will give older people social, economic, and mental protection.

At the Graceful Aging Fellowship, GRAF’s 13th anniversary celebration held in Abuja, with the theme “Wholesome Living, The Key to Graceful Longevity”, the bill on the Rights and Privileges of Older Persons has been appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari for his approval. Senator Dr. Eze Ajoku, the international coordinator of GRAF, spoke at the event, and he said that the bill’s passage with the President’s signature would provide the necessary socio-economic and psychological protection of the rights as well as privileges of older persons in Nigeria, which is a legacy that no one can take away from him and his ruling party at the moment.

Dr. Eze said that as they celebrate, he looked back to a similar event seven years ago, when, by God’s grace, the coalition on aging was founded. A historic first Bill on the Rights and Privileges of Older Persons in Nigeria has been passed by the National Assembly and is now waiting for Presidential assent due to the efforts of COSROPINT, the Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria. COSROPINT has made significant contributions to ageing through its work with the government to develop the National Policy on Ageing, its facilitation of the establishment of the National Senior Citizen Centre, and its work on these issues more generally.

COSROPINT is working with the government on Ageing National Policy.

On behalf of over 14.9 million Nigerian aged people, he utilized the opportunity to lead the President to sign the Older Persons Rights and Privileges Bill. Passing the Senior Citizens Center Act in 2017 and establishing its board in 2021, Mr. President has done commendably well. Under his guidance, the Federal Executive Council also approved the National Policy on Aging. The Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria contributed to both (COSROPIN).

He also highlighted that COSROPIN is collaborating with several other stakeholders in order to offer health insurance to Nigerians who are in their later years. Currently, COSROPIN has evolved into a key partner with the federal government on the concerns of the health, welfare, dignity, and safety of older people in Nigeria. We are grateful to GRAF. In addition, he made a plea to younger civil servants as well as politicians, saying that they should back the signing of the Older Persons Bill since, sooner or later, they will reach retirement age and be considered older persons.

The bill holds a lot of future benefits for both young and old – Ajoku.

Speaking on the benefit of the bill, which will accrue to all in the future, he quoted a proverb that says, ‘A child that breaks the seat exclusively preserved for the old will have nothing to seat on when he gets old.’ According to them, if there was ever a reason why the President hadn’t signed the Older Person’s Bill at this point, it could be changed by being sent back to the National Assembly, which would then take the appropriate action before sending it back to the president for approval.

Dr. Eze Ajoku inquired the federal government to give older people places to go and things to do for fun. In addition to this, he urged the Minister of the FCT to make sure that elderly residents have access to recreation areas that are comparable to Jabi Lake in Abuja. They hardly ever locate a playground for older people’s football games or other athletic events because they are senior citizens. State Government should do what Ekiti has done and give senior citizens places to play sports. For older people to age in a healthy way, physically, mentally, and spiritually, GRAF activities should be reiterated in many states. He added that they want older people to be included in the National Sporting Plans and Initiatives.

Dayyabah encourages older people to focus on the positives.

Lastly, Dr. Dayyabah Shaibu, Country Director of the Reconnect Health Development Initiative, gave a keynote address titled “No spring-chicken,” in which she advised the elderly to prioritize their mental health, concentrate on the positives, always smile, and be happy. The Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Salihu Dembos, who also spoke at the event and was the event’s special guest of honour, was one of the other dignitaries who attended. Professor Tunde Adeniran, who serves as Chairman of GRAF, was also present.

Related Link

GRAF: Website

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