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    FG to establish agency for Older Persons in Nigeria – minister

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    By Tony Tagbo, Abuja 

    The federal government is planning to establish a technical Agency whose mandate would be to address the situation of older persons in Nigeria. The agency will be a parastatal in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

    Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, disclosed this when he received a delegation from the United Nations Independent Experts on enjoyment of human rights by older persons in Abuja.

    Agba who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Olushola Idowu, explained that  taking care of older persons was crucial adding that the government will leave no stone unturned to address their plight.

    The Minister added that federal government had also created a Social Development Department, which is known as National Senior Citizen Centre, as well as, inclusion of policy measures that address the situation of older persons in the revised National Social Protection Policy that was jointly developed with an input by the current Director General of the National Senior Citizen Centre.

    According to him, the Social Development Department in Budget and National Planning is the coordinating department working collaboratively with the Nigeria Senior Citizen Centre to mainstream the rights of older persons in the National Development Plan in the struggle to have budget line which would be sufficiently used to take care of older persons across all sectors.

    He restated government’s commitment will continue to support older persons in the country to ensure that their human rights are not compromised. 

    According to him, the Social Development Department in Budget and National Planning is the coordinating department working collaboratively with the Nigeria Senior Citizen Centre to mainstream the rights of older persons in the National Development Plan in the struggle to have budget line which would be sufficiently used to take care of older persons across all sectors.

    In his message, the Head of the United Nations’ Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Older Persons, Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Right (UNCHR), Dr Claudia Mahler, observed that older persons did not enjoy all human rights because so many things hindered them from doing so. 

    She however noted that the purpose of their visit to Nigeria was to raise awareness that older persons were left behind because they were neither seen nor visible in the data.

    The UN expert said that the global agency would like to have a clear picture of the situation in order to further collaborate with  Nigeria on how better to improve the situation for older persons in the country.

    She stressed the importance of better nutrition and social protection for older persons as they contributed to the workforce and needed to be taken care of in the pension system.

    The Statistician General of the Federation, Prince Adeyemi Adeniran, in his remarks, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has always made conscious efforts by keeping and releasing data of the elderly in the country as some of the analyses from their survey had brought out the perspective.

    He said that an example, among others, were the labour forces, whose data bring out the proportion of labour force who were 60 and above, adding that, ‘’NBS also has data of the elderly persons who own household enterprises. These data also show that they are old and still actively contributing to the economy.’’

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