Prof Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje, CFR, CON, NNOM, has said that one who neglects the care and welfare of the elderly in their homes and in the society at large, should be reminded that we will all get old one day and require the same attention and care from the younger generation.
Prof Akinlawon Mabogunje was speaking through his son, Engr Oluseun Mabogunje, during the Egbaland Humanitarian and Development Council (EHDC) Health outreach in commemoration of the United Nation’s World Senior Citizens Day Celebration and Alake’s 78th Birthday Celebration, at the Ake Palace, Abeokuta, on Tuesday, 5th of October, 2021.
Mabogunje, who was also the chairman of the occasion, emphasised on the need for Nigerians to go back to what he described as the Yoruba ‘Agbole’ (which means local) system of living together of extended families and ensuring the welfare of the elderly in each homes by the younger members of the family, in his welcome address.
He further lamented that the younger generation tend to forget or even ignore the older people in their lives, adding that their presence however, gives guidance and inspiration.
He reiterated that the younger ones should remember that they would get old too and require the same care and attention from their children.
He said, “taking care of the elderly in our country today is getting more complex as economic realities makes it more difficult for the working generation to take care of their parents as their parents took care of their own parents in the past.”
He added that many were relocating to other countries in search of better employment opportunities, leaving their parents behind to fend for themselves in their old age.
Prof Mabogunje further lamented that Nigeria had no functional national policy on the care and welfare of older persons, adding that changing demographics in Nigeria, in addition to the breakdown of the family structure and absence of a social security system, present unique challenges to the elderly in the country.
“It is noteworthy that in 2018, President Mohammed Buhari inaugurated the National Senior Citizens Centre Act, 2018 to cater for the needs of senior citizens.“ He stated.
He also said the functions of the Act was to identify the needs, trainings and opportunities of senior citizens in the country and be responsible for the provision of recreational, sports, educational, health and social programs and facilities designed for the full enjoyment and benefit of senior citizens in the country, as well as provide guidance and counselling for the senior citizens, among others.
Mabogunje advised the Government that many in the age range of 65 to 75, are often still very alert mentally and physically, and capable of delivering quality service in their areas of competence and expertise.
“Though, many of them, particularly those in public service would have retired, their services can still be retained in such areas as teaching, mentoring, counselling, consulting and other such services that will not be too demanding on their time and for a concessionary fee.”
“This will be a win-win situation for government and the elderly as they will be kept busy and engaged instead of slowly degenerating and wilting away due to inactivity.”
He further urged that the culture of volunteerism by the elderly should be encouraged for this age group, saying that it will actually keep them busy and engaged.
He also added that the education, modernisation, industrialisation, and urbanisation introduced by the colonisers, had been taken for Westernisation.
Prof Mabogunje said there was already existing scope in the Nigeiran pre colonial administration to improve on all these, but was not addressed.
He disclosed that the population of elderly citizens in Sub Saharan Africa and other parts of the world, would soon increase according to a report by the United Nations.
On the issue of Pension, Prof Mabogunje said the issue was saddening that old people who had served the nation had to queue under terrible conditions just to sign some papers, and go through rigorous processes to get their pensions.
“Though payment of pension should be straightforward, it has been somewhat difficult to ensure that our senior citizens receive their pension every month without fear or favour, and with the respect, ease and convenience they deserve after labouring for our country all their working life.”
He added that he hoped the government would take the issue of Pension very seriously so that those who had served the country would not regret having done so.
Prof Mabogunje lauded the Ekiti State government who had already taken laudable steps in caring for the elderly in the State, by taking the ultimate responsibility of ensuring that the senior citizens of Ekiti state are paid their pension in his two terms as Governor of the state.
He further commended the Alake of Egbaland for his love towards the elderly as well as the EHDC’s efforts.
The Executive Directors of the Egbaland Humanitarian and Development Council who were present at the occasion included High Chief Olabode Mustapha, MSC, Miod – Chairman; High Chief Tosin Fadare, FCA, – Vice Chairman; Aare Jide Taiwo – DG; Chief Omolola Abiola-Edewor; Prince Adesegun Ajibola, SAN; Mrs Anthonia Akinlawon, SAN; and Prince Yemi Shodimu (Media/Publicity).
Other eminent personalities present include Olori Tokunbo Gbadebo; Ekiti State Governor represented by Dr Tunde Adegbola; Ogun INEC Commissioner, Mr Olusegun Agbaje; Dr Femi Carena, Prince Lekan Tejuoso, and others.
Egba High Chiefs present included Baagbimo Akanni Akinwale, Balogun Sikirullah Atobatele represented, Akogun Bayo Shoyoye, Baamowe Majahid Ajao Adelekan, Lisa Ayinla Olaogun, Sarunmi M. Ola Yusuf, Aare Baaroyin Layi Labode, to mention a few.