Minister urges care for older citizens

Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyema

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has harped the need for initiatives that is centered on catering for the wellbeing of retired, aged and ageing citizens across the country.

Onyeama made the call in Abuja during the roundtable discussion and official launch of the Jola Adekola Initiative for Retired, Ageing and Aged (JAIRAA) held on the theme “Access and Inclusion of the elderly in Nigeria”.

Represented by the Minister of state Amb. Zubairu Dada, he expressed worry that many aged and retired citizens don’t enjoy their pension, noting that the none working class suffer more but they deserve to be considered in the scheme of things.

“There is need to make provisions for the the retired, aged and ageing because many of them are not enjoying their pension. Thank God that we still maintain a bit of our tradition, in which case we take care of our elders, but times are changing and we see situation we forget to take care of our aged parents,” he said.

“Parents deserve much attention and care, because they must have given all that it takes for young people to become self reliant at adult stages. I urge all Nigerians to take up the challenge championed by JAIRAA to achieve targets,” he added.

Similarly, the Minister of humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, decried the increasing issues affecting the ageing and aged in the country.

Also represented by a Director in the ministry Mr. Valentine Ezulu, she noted that ageing issues are receiving global attention and is being placed at the front burner of global discourse, stressing that there was the need for Nigeria to key into this global move.

“Older persons must be recognized as agents of societal development; in Nigeria, ageing is growing against the background of socioeconomic hardship, poverty, poor health facilities and lack of access to education.

“This is why President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is ensuring that identified challenges are dealt with and has established the Centre for Senior Citizens, approved the policy on ageing towards developing productive activities and work scheme, to improve their wellbeing being.

In her welcome address, the Executive Director and Founder of JIARAA, Jolade Adekola,  explained that the foundation was established to complement government’s efforts in meeting needs of elderly Nigerians.

Amb. Adekola, who is also a retired staff of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, added that the initiative was derived from her field experience while in civil service.

“When I retired, I met a lot of people who were devastated and did not really know what to do next, they were like being conditioned to just die slowly and I realised that they are so many things to do.

“One of the reasons for JAIRAA foundation is that we have the initiative to carry people along. There are lots of aged people in the society being neglected, their voices are not heard, they are just there and ,they have lots of potential in them,” she explained.

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