Thursday, December 8, 2022

UN, Nigeria recommit to improving older people’s lives

Mr Buhari signed the act to establish NSCC in 2017, a focal body to reorient citizens’ negative perceptions and attitudes about ageing and older people.

• August 30, 2022
Sadiya Umar Faruk and Claudia Mahler
Sadiya Umar Faruk and Claudia Mahler

The UN and Nigeria have restated their commitment to enhancing the lives of older persons in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the act to establish NSCC in 2017, a focal body to reorient citizens’ negative perceptions and attitudes about ageing and older people.

Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, restated Nigeria’s commitment in a meeting with Dr Claudia Mahler, the UN’s independent expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights of Older Persons, on Monday in Abuja.

Ms Farouq said the ministry served as the nexus to bridge Nigeria’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral efforts to ensure inclusive social development, disaster mitigation and coordinated humanitarian responses in Nigeria.

She explained that the ministry was established to provide leadership and coordinate all matters relating to humanitarian challenges, disaster management and social development in Nigeria.

“However, under the purview of the ministry, a number of policies have been developed to provide cardinal directions and framework for programme design, planning and implementation in the statutory areas,” stated the minister. “These include the National Policy on Ageing, Revised Social Protection Policy, Policy on Internally Displaced Persons, Policy on Persons with Disability, and Policy on Prohibition of Trafficking and Violence Against Persons, including older persons.”

According to her, the ministry has also developed a comprehensive Strategic Roadmap for effective coordination. 

“Let me reiterate Nigeria’s commitment to support any process, including cross-regional inter-sessional meetings of like-minded member states to move forward the Convention on the Rights of older persons,” Ms Farouq said.

She further said that the National Health Insurance Authority Bill, which has incorporated older persons amongst vulnerable groups for free healthcare without payment of premium, was recently signed into law.

Ms Farouq also said older people were recipients of the grants for the vulnerable groups, with 15 per cent allocation reserved for them.

Ms Mahler said even though she heard a lot about Nigeria’s effort, she was in the country to get an overview of activities concerning older people.

“I am grateful to learn that there is a policy in place which tackled the issues and will be monitored. I am willing to hear more about concrete steps so as to know where to render support to Nigeria in this regard,” said the UN official. “We can also raise more awareness. A lot of things are already going on. I think older persons are not that visible than other age groups.”

She noted that all over the world, “we are still at the awareness level” to ensure that older people are left behind. 

“We need not only to support them but to give them space to be the advocate for themselves,” Ms Mahler stressed. “I encourage you to tell me what is going on in your specific areas, including numbers, as it would help me in my report.”


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