Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, yesterday called for collective support for the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged in society, adding that it was high time society redefined its culture and value system as a way of showing they are caring people.
Obaseki made the call while inaugurating the ultra-modern Elderly Care Centre built by the former chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, under the auspices of Dagomo Foundation Limited.
He said: “There are many of us in this audience who have the reach; who have the relationships to spread this message, to spread the word that we must redefine ourselves as a caring society.’’
While noting that as a people and as a society that care, not only for those who are successful, he added: “if we do not begin today to invest for the future, invest for our old age, we will all be losers for it.”
According to him, “What we are witnessing today is excellently what defines the hallmark of a civilized society. Where beyond looking at ourselves, our comfort and our accomplishments, we sit back to reflect on the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the dead’’.
Quoting Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who said “people stop growing old when they stop pursuing their dreams”, he Edo state governor stated,
“We must continue to pursue our dreams beyond when we are here.”
Obaseki, who extolled the beautiful and laudable gesture, pledged to partner Dagomo Foundation Limited on how to work out clear policies to support the weak in the society.
“For us and the government of Edo state, Dagomo Foundation is one foundation we will partner with. We will partner with you because we need to raise very clear policies on how to deal with the issues of the elderly and the disadvantaged in the society. We must have very well thought-out policies on how we deal particularly with the elderly because we hopefully will all grow old someday”, the governor said.
Furthermore, Obaseki disclosed the willingness of his administration to partner the foundation on the creation of a befitting resting place for the dead.
“We will also partner with you to deal with the disgraceful issue of our cemeteries and how we take care of our dead.
“In other parts of the world, cemeteries are laid out; they are so environmentally friendly to the extent that sometimes you say, I want to be laid there when I am no more. But I am not sure there are people in this city, in this state who want to be buried in our cemeteries, and we have converted our homes to cemeteries at the risk of our health.
“So, it’s one area we would like to work with the foundation,
particularly in the three local government areas of Egor, Oredo and Ikpoba Okha that easily have a population that has exceeded a million people. We need to decide how to plan out resting places,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Dagomo Foundation Limited, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, thanked the Governor for honoring their invitation to attend the inauguration of the building dedicated to their mother.
She said, “Dagomo is a family based non-governmental organisation established in 2008 in honor of our parents – Daniel and Grace Omoigui from where the name is derived but it became operational in 2013.”
Mrs. Omoigui-Okauru spoke on the focus, vision and mission of the foundation saying, “Our vision is to be a bridge in society, connecting the disadvantaged, unheard and unrecognised with opportunities for a more fulfilling life.
“In this regard, our plan is to nurture a better and more caring environment for the elderly and the dead in the Nigerian society, starting with the Edo community, Benin City, and sow the seeds for an elderly care services industry in Nigeria.
“We won’t plan to do these ourselves, but to work with partners, and be a catalyst for change,” she said.
According her, “Our immediate goal is to make aging a more enjoyable and dignified experience for at least one million people”, adding that the initiative of the foundation include, “initiating and ensuring the deployment of effective policy and legal instruments for the elderly, at both state and federal levels.” the wife