The National Policy on Ageing is ready for approval by the Federal Executive Council, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, has said.
Mrs Umar-Farouq made this known in her opening remark at a symposium to commemorate the 2020 International Day of the Older Persons, on Thursday in Abuja.
She said the symposium was an annual celebration of senior citizens around the world and a chance to take stock of the opportunities and challenges related to population ageing.
“The ministry serves as the national vehicle to bring about speedy humanitarian policies and provide effective coordination of national and international humanitarian interventions, and ensure strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness and response.
“The ministry also manages the formulation and implementation of fair-focused social inclusion, policies and protection programmes in Nigeria.
“In realisation of this fact, the ministry initiated various programmes and activities toward ensuring healthy ageing and overall wellbeing of the elderly.
“When approved, it will go a long way to address challenges faced by senior citizens today,” Mrs Umar-Farouq said.
According to her, not fewer than 17,000 people, aged over 60 years, have lost their lives to COVID-19 Pandemic in the African Region.
“The figure accounts for 50 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in the region,” she said.
She emphasised that it was time to recognise the significant contributions that older persons made to families, communities and societies.
“Throughout their lives, they have given their time and energy to helping others and they continue to do so.
“In return, we should do more to support their human rights and freedoms, including their right to live in dignity and security, free from want and fear,” Mrs Umar-Farouq said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the minister was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Bashir Alkali.
Also speaking, the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, Osita Okechukwu, urged government and business owners to work towards ensuring free transportation, medication and legal services for elderly people.
He also emphasised the need for timely payment of pensions.
According to the VON boss, such will make them happy and also encourage the younger generation.
“Free transportation and medication is necessary and important for the aged. If the aged are happy, the young ones will be happier.
“Let us help the aged so that the young will not resort to self-help. If the aged are not paid their pensions, the young will seek avenues to loot public treasury to take care of their old age,” Mr Okechukwu said.