By Christopher Njoku
THE gathering was an unusual one as it featured only the aged at a venue in the Oke-Afa area of Lagos to celebrate the 51st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. The event was put together by a non-governmental organisation, Centre for Happy Elderly People, CHEP, under the leadership of Deaconess Lilian Jiringho.
The organisation has since its foundation been providing for the elderly in the society. Of particular interest are the less- privileged and incapacitated elderly people who have been benefitting from various programmes of CHEP.
The event took place at the Centre’s home, at Plot 3A/B Bungalow Phase 1, Jakande Estate, Oke Afa Isolo, Lagos.
The theme of this year’s event was: “Activating the National Policy and New Power for Development Among the Aging”. It was preceded by a rally to advocate for the aging, with the members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, in attendance.
The coordinator of the organisation, Mrs. Jiringho, in her speech advocated that the government should establish a ministry of elderly citizens in honour of past heroes who laboured for the nation. She strongly condemned the disrespectful manner many young people currently treat their aging parents, forgetting that they also would one day grow old.
In her words: “I must let you know that the relations of older people are the greatest abusers of these aging people. In the course of my visitation to individual homes of the elderly, some were met in pool of urine and faeces till late in the day or pending when their caretaker return from work”.
Mrs. Jiringho said that indeed Nigeria has a well- packaged policy for older persons, but implementation is a major setback. “Increasing demand for long-term care in dealing with dementia and the raising of pervasive ageism that denies older people the rights and opportunities available for other adults, non-governmental organisations have increased efforts to address aging issues in some developed and developing countries, just as CHEP is advocating for implementation of the said policy,” she said.
The Rotary Club of Oke-Afa has been supporting the activities of CHEP by donating mosquito nets to the organisation, in order to help prevent these aging people from mosquito bites, as they could be more exposed to malaria.