Pension and the Senior Citizens Centre Act

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The Problem Statement

The recurring abuse of vulnerable older people is not a trend that is new in Nigeria, likewise other parts of the world. Senior Citizens as fondly referred should be able to live in dignity- free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse.

Anything that thwarts this is simply an infringement of their human rights. Human rights are possessed by everybody – older age is not a ground for denying a person their human rights or restricting their enjoyment of them.

Covering a small percentage (7.4 million) of Nigeria’s labour force, it is difficulty in getting their gratuity after years of service, at a time they are no longer able to properly take care of themselves.

This is a dissimilarity from the Pension Commission’s vision of having 20 million contributors by 2019.

The President assented to the National Senior Citizens Act, 2018. However, since its signing into law, nothing has been heard from the federal government about this inspiring legislation or plans regarding its implementation. Board members of the center have not been announced and no appropriation of funds as the Pension Institutions have fallen out of expectations.

The Policy Solution

The National Senior Citizens Centre Act seeks to facilitate Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution, which provides that the state shall direct its policy towards ensuring “that … old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens”.

Section 2 of the Act provides for the establishment of a Senior Citizens Centre headed by a Director-General, headquartered in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with the state discretion.

They are charged with identifying the needs, training, opportunities of senior citizens and taking responsibility for creating recreational, sports, health, educational, counselling and social programmes for their benefits. they shall also develop and implement schemes to provide income or supplementary earnings for aged citizens, keep records and statistics concerning senior citizens in the country, and partner with sub-national, national, and international bodies in achieving its objectives.

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NIGAC Constructive Position/Take

The Federal Government has to ensure senior citizens who are mostly pensioners are paid and as at when due. More attention has to be paid to the Senior Citizens Centre so as to ensure it is operating efficiently. More social and welfare programmes for senior citizens have to be introduced.

More legislation should be considered to protect the elderly from exploitation and physical or mental abuse.

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