A group, Retired Army, Navy, and Air Force Officers (RANAO), has commended the Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN) for its contributions to the establishment of the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC).
AVM Robert Ekezie (rtd), Chairman of RANAO, gave the commendation on Monday in Abuja at the National Senior Citizens Centre Forum- Maiden Dialogue with Senior Citizen.
Ekezie said the consistent advocacy by COSROPIN and other Civil Society Organisations as well as non-state actors should be sustained in order to achieve the desired result of the new centre.
He called for engagement and mobilisation of people to reach the remote areas of the country as over-dependence on government will be disastrous.
“Government alone cannot deliver even 30 per cent of the needs of Senior Citizens nor meet the needs of those of them who are in the remote areas.”
“The solutions lie in the mobilisation of people’s factor for which government lacks the speed needed.”
“As it stands today, the National Senior Citizens Centre is a result of the advocacy by Civil Society Groups, especially Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN).”
He reiterated the imperative of continuous engagement with existing structures such as COSROPIN and other non-State actors for strengthened and adequate grassroot outreach programmes to remote areas.
Ekezie commended President Muhammadu Buhari for inaugurating the NSCC as well as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for the commitment to the affairs of senior citizens.
He noted that the solutions to all the problems of senior citizens could not be addressed by the Federal Government alone because resources were lean and overstretched.
Ekezie, therefore, urged the government to continue to partner with the private sector to execute the country’s infrastructure development projects.
Ekezie advised the centre to avoid over-dependence on government because “issues like too much protocol might slow the execution of projects”.
He reiterated the need for mobilisation of foot soldiers who would link the centre to senior citizens, particularly those in remote areas.
“These foot soldiers should be encouraged; Women Development Centre and NEMA are case studies of what works and what is expected.
“Women Development Centre, as an agency of government has no structures, no liabilities as far as direct mobilisation, project development, and delivery are concerned.”
“Instead, they use the available coalition called National Council for Women Societies.”
“This senior citizens centre should borrow a leaf from already existing agencies, partnerships and do the needful for the benefit of senior citizens.”
He said Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government understood the value of working closely with non-State actors used to interface with people in rural areas rather than direct interaction with senior citizens.
Ekezie emphasised the need to carry all the senior citizens along to achieve the desired result.
Dr. Emem Omokaro, Director General of the NSCC assured the senior citizens of a blissful future.
“Issues affecting the senior citizens will no longer be given discretional but mandatory attention,” Omakoro said.
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