By Ikenna Osuoha
The Federal Government on Thursday declared support for the formalisation of National Elders Parliament (NEP) as alternative conflict resolution mechanism.
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), said this at the Consultative Stakeholders Meeting by senior citizens held in Abuja.
Mustapha, represented by Mrs Veronica Agugu, Director Public Department, in SGF Office described elders as custodians of societal customs and morality which the society could utilise for moral and economic development.
“The elderly in any society are composite resource which the society can utilise its social, moral and economic development.
“The senior citizens are custodians of society’s customs, traditions and morality due to the enormous experience they have gathered over the years.
“They have the capacity and potential to contribute and impact positively on their communities to enhance Government programmes, support structure for educating, learning, conflict resolutions mechanism and serve as alternative dispute, reconciliation and resolution platforms,” he said.
The SGF who lauded Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) for its innovative programmes, said that President Muhammadu Buhari led administration would welcome procedures that would engage veterans in the national elders parliament.
Mustapha affirmed the determination of the Federal Government to work with COSROPIN and IFAN in advancing and activating laudable initiative.
He assured of the FG’s commitment to issues of the elderly as demonstrated through robust programmes as Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD), National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and National Health Insurance (NHIS).
Sen. Eze Ajoku, President, Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) said that National Elders Parliament (NEP) was a consultative socio-cultural alternative conflict resolution platform.
Ajoku said that the parliament was a non-religious, non-political platform that would use wisdom, counsel and experience of the elderly to contribute to the promotion of peace and conflict resolution.
“The National Elders’ Parliament is a project designed to maximally utilise the wisdom, experience and network of elder statesmen of Nigeria with integrity and pedigree drawn from various geo-political zones of the country,” he said.
Ajoku ascribed the National Elders Parliament, passage of Older Persons Rights and Privileges bill to the doggedness of COSROPIN in advocating for improved welfare for elders.
He said, “COSROPIN is out to restore the dignity and right positioning of senior citizens in the country.
“In many communities, Senior Citizens are already playing this role of conflict resolution and community watches and gate keepers.”
The coalition boss who described elders as conscience of communities, called for the formalisation of these roles through elders parliament.
Earlier, Prof Tunde Adeniran, Chairman of the Parliament emphasised the importance of elders parliament in the national, continental and global clamour for peace.
Adeniran noted the inevitability of conflicts in societies, saying that peace would remain a mirage until things were done rightly.
Mr Ike Willie-Nwobu, Coordinator, International Federation on Ageing in Nigeria (IFAN) said that National Elders Parliament would use the productivity of the elderly for national development.
Willie-Nwobu who condemned the marginalisation of elders, said creation of National Elders Parliament was paramount to bringing about equity.
He said, “We have children and youth parliament and now elderly parliament, the will be completed, erasing the politics of exclusion and marginalisation of elders and seniors.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Consultative Stakeholders Meeting is a preparatory platform for elders to deliberate on factors that may drive the formalisation of National Elders Parliament. (NAN)