By Miriam Humbe
Consultant Psycho-Geriatrician, Dr. Christopher Piwuna, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Jos, has said that the public hearing on the Bill on Older Persons, (Rights and Privileges) should draw support from all stakeholders, to ensure it is signed and implemented.
Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi sponsored the Bill titled the Older Persons (Rights and Privileges) Bill 2019, which was read for the first time in the Senate Chamber on November 7, 2019.
This Bill seeks to provide certain rights and privileges for older persons in order to ensure health and economic reliefs and protection for their social and civil rights.
This Bill also; Strengthens the protection of the Rights of Older persons; Identifies the peculiar human Rights Situation of older persons by reason of age, distinct from other population cohorts.
It addresses other matters such as systemic and interpersonal prejudice, stereotype and discrimination against older persons; and compels all sectors to integrate older persons in development and to ensure age friendly environment. It prescribes punitive measures where their rights are denied.
Senator Onyewuchi posits that an ageing population poses numerous social and economic challenges, but the right set of policies can equip society to address these challenges in time.
Addressing the Senate, Onyewuchi said: “Some of the challenges facing the older persons in Nigeria include challenges of retirement, ageism, and social isolation among others.
“The many social and economic challenges triggered by ageing are an emerging issue and the government needs to table policies that will incorporate the elderly, policies that need to ensure that the elderly will feel valued and connected in their old age.
“This bill therefore seeks to commit authorities at all levels of governance to contribute to a positive and healthy societal change that will benefit the older persons”.
Doctor Piwuna who was super elated at the proposed Bill passing its second reading, revealed that if passed into law, it will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for older adults.
He said: “They face challenges in living arrangement, health services and social support services. All these are fundamental issues that also have direct bearing on their human rights.
“But, in Nigeria, considering our history in passing laws, getting the bill passed is only a single step in ensuring an all-inclusive society, where older adults have a role to play”.