By EricJames Ochigbo
A group of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has commended the House of Representatives for considering Bills that would enhance social welfare of children, the youth and the aged.
The organisations made the commendation in separate interviews on the sidelines of a Public Hearing on a Bill for an Act to establish the National Council on Ageing.
The hearing also covered the Bill for Act to amend Nigeria Children’s Trust Fund Act.
The Executive Director, Dave Omokoro Foundation, Dr Emem Omokaro, said that when the bill was passed, it would be landmark legislation.
She said it would shift the ageing from being solely a family concern, to a Public-Private-Partnership affair.
Omokoro said the older people should not be seen as liabilities and burden but as assets as they had skills, experience and were custodians of history.
She said the older persons had a lot to offer when their functional capacity was supported.
“The older people need income security, access to healthcare facility and good environment. When a country is able to balance these with a good legislation, then the country begins to reap social capital.
“These bills are very important and we thank the 8th National Assembly for considering these people-oriented bills.
“They have considered the vulnerable and indigent people; we applaud them and we are here to help them fine-tune it and encourage them pass it,” she said.
Sen. Darlington Ajoku, President of Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria, commended the lawmakers for the initiative.
He said the coalition, made up of 11 societies, considered the public hearing as life-time opportunity for the committees to give hope to the aged.
Ajoku said that when the Bill was passed, the 8th House of Representatives would be eternally remembered by the aged in the country.
He said it would be first time the aged would be legally recognised and urged the house to pass the bill before the end of the legislative term.
The non-serving senator, who expressed confidence that the bill would be signed into law, said it had been passed by the Senate in 2009.
Earlier, the Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said the public hearing underscored the commitment of the 8th House of Representatives to provision of legal frameworks for the welfare of the elderly, children and youths.
He said that in recognition of the changing times, there was need to address the different needs of all segments of the society.
In her remarks, the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Rep. Stella Ngwu (Enugu-PDP), said issues concerning the elderly, youth and children affected all and sundry.
She said the public hearing was organised to create a window of participation for all Nigerians in the legislative process for the enactment of laws relating to the elderly, children and youth.
She urged stakeholders to make submissions and suggest best ways to harmonise the provisions of the bills to enable the assembly pass it with the speed of light.
The sponsor of the Bills, Rep. Joan Mrakpor (Delta-PDP) said the bills bothered on the general welfare of the aged.
She said the welfare of the aged was not limited to providing food or money but also included care and attention and keeping them mentally active.
The legislator said the aged were also part of the society and if well taken care of, they would be able to contribute to the development of the nation from the wealth of their experience.