By Collins Yakubu-Hammer
Dr Emem Omokaro, the Director-General of National Senior Citizens Centre, says plans are ongoing to engage 14.9 million older people in the country to be productive and contribute to the economy and their communities.
Omokaro disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
She said the recently approved National Policy on Aging defined a senior citizen as someone that is 60 years old and above.
She added that “from the Nigerian Living Standard Survey carried out by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2019, we have about 14.9 million older persons.
“We are working to extract the data in the statistics. About 70 per cent of those in the statistics are in rural areas.
“We are setting our strategy essentially to ensure provision of programmes and services and accessibility. We have done our desk review.
“The National Senior Citizens Act mandates us to provide health, social programmes, entrepreneurship, work schemes, educational and living opportunities, among others, to older people.”
Omokaro said the centre would leverage on already existing structures like Primary Healthcare facilities, National Social Safety Net Office, ministries of humanitarian affairs, health, agriculture and rural development and many others to engage the senior citizens.
She maintained that “engaging the 14.9 million older people in Nigeria is doable when broken down into states and local government areas.”
According to her, it is something that can be handled because there is no state that has up to one million older persons.
“So, by the time we break it down to see the numbers, we will go further and break it down into local government areas. We intend to do that with multisector indicators.
“The Multi-sector Indicator Survey on Aging will help us to know where senior citizens are, their socioeconomic status, sex, education, engagement, level of engagement, etc.
“This is because it is when you know their diversity that you can actually come in, and effectively engage them.”
Omokaro explained that one of the centre’s objectives was to promote healthy aging “and there is going to be a documentary that will speak to that.
“We are not only going to have a programme for older persons, we are going to give them opportunities to continue to contribute their wealth of experience to develop their communities.
“The traditional belief is that when you retire, you are no longer useful, but the truth is that, these retirees possess all their institutional memories, experts and goodwill acquired over the years.
“So, one of our programmes is creating opportunities for volunteering. If you are a retiree, come and register, tell us what you are interested in.
“We will create programmes to give you an opportunity to give back to the society in terms of knowledge, experience and expertise. This will encourage active aging.” (NAN)