By Sylvester Thompson
As the world marks the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday, the Coalition for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) has called on governments to address the welfare of older persons.
The group is asking for improved healthcare, social security and prompt payment of pensions and stipends for older persons in the country.
The coalition noted that the senior citizens have contributed to national progress in their prime and consequently deserve attention now that they are less active.
Sen. Eze Ajoku, former senator representing Imo East, who is the President of COSROPIN, made the appeal at an event to mark the 2019 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Abuja.
The event had its motto as: “Lifting up your voices’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
It represents the one-day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted on some of our older generations.
Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.
The theme for 2019 Elder Abuse Awareness Day is: “Access to Justice: Legal, Social and Economic Services for Older Victims of Sexual, Physical and Financial Crimes”.
Ajoku said: “Government has done very little to ameliorate the plight of older persons either through policies or legislation.
“We are asking the Federal Government, among other things, to fast track the Social Security Act which is a poverty safety net for older persons in order to reduce their sufferings.’’
He said the healthcare system at the rural levels should be improved upon for the benefit of this set of people.
Ajoku also said that government at all levels must facilitate the payment of pensions and stipends to older persons as well as create day care facilities for them.
According to him, there is no national policy on ageing that is why COSROPIN has come up with a draft bill which will be forwarded to the ninth National Assembly with strong hope of passage.
“Elderly people suffer several societal ills ranging from neglect to verbal, physical, emotional, material and financial abuses.
“Older Nigerians are vital as contributing members of the society, hence their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us.’’
He noted that the Elder Abuse Awareness Day should remind every Nigerian that each one has a role to play by focusing attention on “elder justice’’.
He said with this year’s motto of “Lifting Up Your Voices,’’ COSROPIN wants all Nigerians to say no to elder abuse.
Ajoku added that in a society where cultural values of respect for elders are firmly rooted, it is disheartening that older persons are still treated with disdain.
He also advocated for improved public sensitisation on the role of Nigerians towards “senior citizens’’.
The president of COSROPIN charged religious leaders to use their platforms to orientate their members on according right treatments to older persons.
The UN said millions of seniors have been falling victim to some form of elder abuse, neglect or monetary manipulation around the world.
Around one in six older people experience some form of abuse, a figure higher than previously estimated and predicted to rise as populations age worldwide, the noted.
Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences, it emphasised.