A project dedicated to assisting the senior citizens in the society is bringing sunshine into the lives of the elderly in Apapa Local Government Area of Lagos State. Mary Otunkpe reports
Though the yuletide may have come and gone, the sweet memories of the period will continue to linger for some time to come. And for the senior citizens in Apapa Local Government Area of Lagos State, the yuletide is a period they will always look forward to.
Last yuletide in the Local Government Area, the senior citizens were hosted to a special treat at the inauguration of the Elderly Citizens’ Assistance Scheme (ECAS) and the fifth edition of Lagos Central Senatorial District Town Hall Meeting which had as theme: The Elderly, Our Societal Treasure.
The programme, which was held at the Apapa Local Government secretariat, was hosted by the member representing the Lagos Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who was represented at the occasion by the wife of the chairman, Apapa Local Government, Mrs. Sarah Joseph. It was also organised simultaneously in all the other Local Government Areas in the Senatorial District.
Conceived as part of the Senator’s constituency development initiative aimed at alleviating poverty among the elderly, about 1,300 senior citizens across the Lagos Central Senatorial District of the State were given N10,000.00 each as well as other gift items.
In a speech delivered on her behalf at the occasion, Senator Tinubu, said the programme was a step towards the fulfillment of her campaign promise to vigorously pursue the promulgation of laws that will promote the security, stability and prosperity of Lagos State and Nigeria and help lift people out of poverty.
She disclosed that in order to alleviate the problem of poverty among the elderly, she had initiated the ECAS, a programme in which 1,300 participants will each benefit from the sum of N10,000.00 as part of her constituency development initiative. “This initiative is based on the populist ideals of our great party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and I must say that some states currently under the leadership of ACN governors have taken step to fulfill the ideal by giving social security benefits to the elderly citizens,” she stated.
“At the beginning of my campaign, I made a promise to vigorously pursue the promulgation of laws that will promote the security, stability and prosperity of Lagos State and Nigeria and help lift people out of poverty.
“As you well know, the legislative agenda that I began pursuing on my assumption of office as your senator was to provide succour to the elderly who have laboured for the country , particularly in the informal sector and who now wait, to no avail, to reap the fruit of their labours. I thank God that I have been able to deliver on my promise to them by sponsoring a bill to provide social security for the elderly.
“In traditional African society, the norm has always been to accord much respect to the elderly who are defined as people above the age of 65 years and many of who are in this audience.
The culture of according respect to the elderly is not limited to traditional African societies; it has blossomed to become a world wide phenomenon. Taking the lead is the United Nations General Assembly which has demonstrated its commitment to the elderly by declaring the year 1999 as the ‘International Year of Older Person and which has issued a Resolution (Resolution 47/3) on the ageing. The United Nations (UN) also set aside the annual date of October 1 as International Day of Older Persons.
“According to the UN , one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century is longevity. This view is not only held by UN, but also by many religions of the world, which view longevity as a blessing from God,” she said.
She however lamented that “It is sad that today that many countries now neglect their elderly ones,” saying “today, there is a high incidence of poverty, neglect and homelessness among the elderly.”
According to her,” Nigeria is currently ranked low in development because of her failure to collectively address the problem facing the elderly and other vulnerable segment of the population. Our budgetary allocations often do not favour the elderly.
“This is an anomaly; our society should treasure the elderly who are custodian of wisdom. We should remember that when crisis comes, solution could only come when we combine the wisdom of our elders with the knowledge and energy of our youths.”
She however reiterated that “we would not be mortgaging our children’s future if we provide social security to today’s elderly citizen and provide for our children’s smooth transition into their own twilight years.”
Senator Oluremi Tinubu said being elderly is a blessing and not a curse as she implored the senior citizens to treasure this period of their lives. “Senior citizens should not rest on their oars because the society still needs them. Elderly citizen can play a role in bringing up children; many children brought up by grandparent have grown up to become influential world leaders. We have the modern day example of President Barack Obama of the United States and the biblical example of Timothy, whose up bringing were influenced by their grand mothers.
“Senior citizens should see themselves as agents of development and social justice. They can be active leaders as exemplified by the likes of the Dala Lama of Tibet, Nelson Mandela who at age 70 ruled post-apartheid South Africa; Warren Buffet who is acknowleged as one of the richest men in the world and our own Iyaloja General, Alaja AbIbatu Mogaji, who served as a leader in our society.”
She urged all senior citizens to engage in life-long development , saying they should strive to transmit their knowledge and experience to the future generation.
The chairman, Apapa Local Government, Mr. Ayo Joseph, who hosted the ceremony, said his administration shared in the belief that the senior citizens in the society should be taken care of, hence the support for the programme. He urged Nigerians to do whatever they could to assist in making lives easy for the senior citizens.