By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

The Director-General, National Senior Citizen Centre, Dr Emem Omokaro, says the centre will inaugurate social safety net for older persons to further enhance their livelihoods in the country.

Omokaro made this known at a news conference on Friday in Abuja as part of activities marking this year’s independence anniversary and the International Day for Older Persons by the centre.

She noted that there were 70 older persons in each and every state of the federation benefiting from the grants for poor and vulnerable households under the National Social Investment Programme.

According to her, the NSCC Stakeholders Consultative Forum facilitated the authentication and identification of older persons in all states in the country, including the Federal Capital Territory.

According to Omokaro, many states have been paid and the remaining few ones would soon receive payment, adding that NSCC has set up a structure to reach older persons in Nigeria.

“Social Safety Net for Older Persons is the advocacy we have been pushing to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq.

“The minister has actually approved our memo and we are to work with National Social Safety Net and Coordinating Office (NASSCO); which we have started already.

“We have drafted the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NASSCO and it is awaiting signing; and NASSCO has transmitted to us data on poor and vulnerable households across Nigeria.

“So, what is left now is to sign the MoU and have a dedicated Social Safety Net for Older Persons. So far, they have captured in the data base 2.52 million poor older persons.

“And from that data base, they have extracted into the social register 250 older people that are now benefiting from the household grant and that is about seven per cent of older people.

“So, we pushed and advocated that these older persons be extracted from the general households and then give us a dedicated older people stand alone Social Safety Net,” Omokaro said.

The NSCC boss explained that having a social safety net for older people would go a long way to enhance their livelihoods and economic power to live a signifying life.

She said the centre is collaborating with UN, government ministries, departments and agencies to better the lives of older persons in healthcare service, agriculture, craft, recreation and intergenerational exchange of ideas.

“To achieve this, we have developed a national plan of action, linkages with states and local governments, engagement mechanism across the country to build sustainable stakeholders structure that would carry our messages to all nooks and crannies of the country”.

She said Nigeria has moved from no action to a very vibrant, energetic and robust activities to ensure that positive actions are taken to favour older persons and to also change the narrative.

Omokaro said the demography of older persons in Africa, including Nigeria, is increasing and there is need for synergy between the older and younger generations.

“However, Oct. 1 is the International Day for Older Persons. The theme of the Day ‘Resilience of Older Women in a Changing World’ is apt to NSCC, as it gives us the opportunity to market what we are doing.

“Our independence also fall on Oct. 1, so President Muhammadu Buhari designated Oct. 5 National Day of Senior Citizens. So this year, we want to acknowledge the International Day for Older Persons.

“This would be the first time that a date is dedicate to celebrate senior citizens in Nigeria,” Omokaro said. (NAN)

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