By Fortune Eromosele, ABUJA
The Graceful Ageing Fellowship, GRAF, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Bill on Rights and Privileges of Older Persons.
International Coordinator, GRAF, Senator Dr. Eze Ajoku, made the appeal in Abuja on Saturday during the GRAF’s 13th anniversary with the theme: “Wholesome Living, The Key to Graceful Longevity.”
According to him, the President’s assent to the bill, will provide the needed socio-economic and psychological protection of the rights and privileges of Nigerian older persons, a legacy he said no one can take away from him and his ruling party at this time.
He said, “As we celebrate today, we recall that during a similar celebration seven years ago, through the grace of God, we gave birth to a Coalition on Ageing. The Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPINT) that has made huge contributions today in Ageing, working with government to produce the National policy on Ageing, facilitated with government the establishment of the National Senior Citizen Centre and today produced the first ever Bill on the Rights and Privileges of Older Persons in Nigeria passed by the National Assembly awaiting Presidential assent.
“Let me use this opportunity on behalf of over 14.9 million Nigerian older persons to plead with Mr President to give assent to this bill – the Older Persons Rights and Privilege Bill.
“Mr. President has done well, commendably well by signing the Senior Citizens Center Act in 2017 and inaugurating its Board in 2021 and the Federal Executive Council under his leadership, also approved the National Policy on Ageing. Both had the input of the Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN).
“We in COSROPIN are working together with other stakeholders on providing Health Insurance to Nigerian Older Persons. COSROPIN today has become a strategic Partner with the federal government on the issues of wellbeing, welfare, gignity and protection of the Nigerian older persons. Thanks to GRAF.”
He further appealed to younger civil servants and politicians to support the signing of the Older Persons Bill bearing in mind that they will sooner or later retire and become older persons.
“There is a proverb that says, ‘A child that breaks the seat exclusively preserved for the old will have nothing to seat on when he gets old.’ The benefit of this Bill will accrue to all in the future.
“We believe that if there is any reason for the delay in signing the Older Person’s Bill till date, such can be amended through its return to the National Assembly who will do the needful and returned to the President for his assent,” he added.
Ajoku called on the federal government to provide recreational facilities and opportunities for older persons. He also urged the FCT Minister to provide play grounds similar to the Jabi Lake, Abuja, for senior citizens recreation.
“As senior citizens, we can hardly find a playground for older person’s football games and other sporting events. State Government should emulate states like Ekiti to provide sporting centers for its senior citizens. GRAF activities should be replicated in many states for healthy, physical, mental and spiritual ageing of older persons. We call for inclusion of older persons in the National Sporting Plans and Initiatives,” he stated.
In her keynote address entitled: “No spring-chicken,” Country Director, Reconnect Health Development Initiative, Dr. Dayyabah Shaibu, advised the elderly to focus on positives and always smile and be happy as well as prioritising their mental health.
Other dignitaries who spoke and graced the event were, Director-General ,Nigerian Television Authority, Salihu Dembos, who was the special guest of honour. Also was Chairman, GRAF, Prof. Tunde Adeniran.