Change your perception about older persons, they are assets- Omokaro tells Nigerians

“There has been for a long very time pessimistic perception of aging that once you are old, you are just waiting to die.

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NAN Editor in Chief Silas Nwoha speaking with a special guest to the Agency

Dr Emem Omokaro, the Director-General, National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) has urged Nigerians to change their perception of older persons as witches or wizards rather they should be seen as assets.

Omokaro made the call on Sunday at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja.

She said that older persons were often neglected or treated badly because of the perception by some that they possesd witchcraft spirit and their rights were being abused.

She said that the National Senior Citizens Centre was therefore established to carter and look into the plight of the elderly to guarantee their safety and protect their rights among others.

According to her, older persons are assets and the centre intends for Nigerians to recognise those potential in different areas and to tap into them.

“We have to first change the mindset of people on the perception of aging.

“There has been for a long very time pessimistic perception of aging that once you are old, you are just waiting to die.

“Once you are old, your brain is frozen and once you are old, you are ugly, whereas it is the opposite because you have spent your years, your lifetime the life course gathering experience.

“You have become an institutional memory like a bank.

“So we believe in experience, we believe that older persons are assets and older persons are very creative, older persons have experience.”

Omokaro said that the centre was working with other Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to carry out its mandate and have a wider coverage to carter for the rights of older persons in Nigeria.

She said that technical working groups, sometimes bilateral and sometimes multilateral in nature were set up because of the centre’s multi sectorial approach to catering for the aged.

“We have between us and the National Human Rights Commission and then Legal Aids Council, and then National Orientation Agency, this is because we want to work with them to reorient citizenry to understand and respect the rights of older persons.

“We want to develop Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials; we want to project the dignity of older persons; we want to stop, stem elder abuse.

“I am sure you know that incidence of dementia is rising and older persons in those communities are being tagged witches and wizards and being stoned, striped on the streets and beaten.

“So we want to develop a module of Anti-elder Abuse Community Based Rapid Response Mechanism.

“So all these agencies I mentioned have offices nationwide, have programmes and services, procedures and mechanisms that we can use with them.

“So what we need to do is build their own capacity in aging to understand where we are coming from and then partner to use this procedures to get to the communities.’’

Omokaro said that the centre was working to make older persons more productive by having them register what they wanted to do under a unit in its entrepreneurship and livelihood department known as the  continuing engagement unit.

She said the centre would harness and have the data of all the older diplomats and other aged persons with wealth of knowledge to mine their experiences for national development.

She said this was in line with the centre’s mandate to build the capacities of older persons and it would achieve that in collaboration with the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) .

Omokaro said that the centre was already developing its flagship programmes to be launched very soon because older persons “are assets and the centre wants Nigerians to recognise those potential in different areas and to tap into them.”

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She said that the centre was also being  positioned to be intergenerational, adding that “when you are intergenerational you build a more cohesive society.”

Omokaro said that the community programmes were being positioned to be intergenerational because Nigerian communities were now being emptied of our youths, who had no business being in the city.

“What are they doing where are they ? They are just hanging in towns and doing really nothing.

“Whereas our communities are much endowed and the older persons are still back there in the communities doing the things they have been doing for years and they are getting weary.

`So we want to incentify our youths to look into their communities and see how we can develop community livelihoods and get it to be intergenerational with shared prosperity,:” she said

 

(NAN)

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