Some advocates for the widows and elderly have called on government at all levels to prioritise the welfare of senior citizens in Nigeria.
They made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos.
According to them, government should ensure that existing genuine old people’s homes were adequately funded.
They also decried the state of old people’s homes in Nigeria, calling for harmonisation of the system to enhance the elderly people’s welfare.
Speaking, Mr Willy Workman, President, Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF), urged the Federal Government to increase the funding allocation for the old people’s homes.
Workman, who decried the state of most existing old people’s homes, identified lack of funds, inadequate monitoring and lack of harmonisation as the major challenges affecting the homes.
According to him, welfare of the old people should be a top priority of the government, saying that government officials including everyone else will certainly get old someday.
He emphasised the need for creation of ” a special fund” specifically to cater for the welfare and progress of the senior citizens (old people) in the country.
Workman also emphasised the need for effectiveness of the Act meant to regulate operations of the old people’s homes in the country, regretting that some homes were not legally registered with the appropriate government board.
“The state of most old people’s homes is not encouraging as they lack the basic necessities and funding needed to manage the homes.
“A lot of them are not registered with the appropriate government offices and as a result they operate at will without adherence to any law or Act whatsoever.
“Actually, there’s an Act meant to regulate operations of the senior citizens in the country; but the question is ‘how many of the existing old people’s homes’ operates in accordance with the Act.
“Hence, the need for effectiveness of the Act and also harmonisation of the existing old people’s homes to make them function the right way and equally fish out the illegally existing ones,” Workman said.
He, therefore, called on the stakeholders to have a dialogue with the NGOs running most of the old people’s homes to see how the system could be harmonised to improve care and welfare of the elders.
Contributing, Mrs Sophy Mbanise, the Founder, Healing Heart Foundation, an NGO, called for the creation of an enabling environment where government hospitals would be empowered to be rendering free medical services to the elderly people.
Mbanise lamented that most elderly people were in dire need of medical attention but could not access it due to their inability pay for medical bills.
According to her, some of the old people have been abandoned by their children and family members, living them to the mercy of their faith.
She said, “Many old people have gone to early graves due to lack of adequate medical care.
“If the government can provide the enabling environment where government hospitals are empowered to be rendering free medical services to the elderly people, it will go a long way to sustain and improve their wellbeing”. (NAN)