President Muhammadu Buhari has restated commitment to provide and enhance mechanism that will effectively cater for the different needs of senior citizens in the country.

Buhari made the commitment , while delivering a keynote address at the 1st Presidential Summit on Ageing and Awards on Friday in Abuja.

The president was represented at the event by the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbeshola.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit, with the theme: “Building Inter-generational Synergies for Inclusive, Cohesive and Sustainable Communities”, was organised by the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC).

The summit was held in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, headed by Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq.

The president announced Oct. 5, as the National Senior Citizens Day, because the UN Day for it coincided with the nation’s independence day on Oct. 1.

Buhari said older persons,  who had toiled in raising their children and served as umbilical cord to connect the founding fathers were mostly neglected and abused in the society.

“In bringing about the paradigm shift in this regard, I signed into law the NSCC Act 2017 to cater for Senior Citizens.

“It is the first distinct National corporate body with a clear define focus on inclusion of Senior Citizens in sustainable development in the history of Nigeria.

” My administration has approved National Policy on Ageing in 2020 to address special needs and harness opportunities in the increasing numbers of older persons in the country.

“The Federal Government is committed to effectively mobilise human and capital resources needed to develop the appropriate mechanism that will be geared towards promoting, providing and ensuring access to basic social services of older persons,” Buhari said.

According to him, in line with the the 2025 Economic Growth Development Plan, the establishment of NSCC in June 2021, and the appointment of the Board members and Director-General, is a testimony to the Federal Government’s commitment to cater for senior citizens.

“I, therefore, encourage every tier of government, traditional and religious institutions, private sector and all Nigerians to be partners in supporting the NSCC in catering for the ageing and older persons in the nation”.

Farouq appreciated her colleagues, who supported her when she presented memos requesting the establishment of the NSCC and others to the Fededal Executive Council.

The minister said that the summit was in recognition of Senior Citizens in Nigeria, adding that ” ageing is a natural process that everyone must undergo in life.”

She said it was gratifying to know that the president had taken the front row as one of the few in Africa to establish entity and institutional capacity to address issues regarding ageing and older persons.

” We thank you Mr President for your consideration and impacting positively on the poor and vulnerable in our society.

“The signing of Disability Act 2018, the NSCC Act 2017 and the establishment of the Ministry to coordinate them, and provide social protection is a clear indication of a president who has the poor and vulnerable at heart.

” For these, Mr President will leave a legacy and write his name in gold in the hearts of the people he has touched,” Farouq said.

She, however, begged Buhari to see reason to approve a Special Day for the celebration of Senior Citizens in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Director-General of NSCC, Dr Emem Omokaro said the summit was not just to celebrate Senior Citizens in Nigeria, also to honour their past, continuous contribution and to recognise, acknowledge them in their diversity as positive force for development.

“The integration of older persons in development is no longer adhoc and can not be pushed aside in Nigeria.

” I thank President Buhari for his unprecedented political will for the care of senior citizens and older persons in the country. He has done so well.”

NAN reports that the event attracted senior citizens from all over the country, youth corps members government officials, development partners and relevant stakeholders.

High points of the event was the Distinct Award to Buhari, who is 79 years old today.

There are eight other senior citizens that received the awards.

They are Elder Nathaniel Okoro, Prof. Julius Okojie, Dr Halima Yalwa Adamu and Salome Yuyu Sambo.

Others are Mahamuda Abubakar, Chief Richard Idowu, Alhaji Haliru Bunza and Hajiya Saudatu Bungudu.

Also, the NSCC Act 2017 and National Policy on Ageing 202 were unveiled by Farouq to the admiration of all.

Responding on behalf the award recipients,  Okojie thanked the centre for the awards and urged senior citizens to always network so they would not die early.

He referred the the recipients as “the Class of 2021” and called for more support for senior citizens. (NAN

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