Do you know Olorogun London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere?

Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength and wrinkles will only go where the smiles have been.

In the annals of Nigeria’s history, within the tapestry of her yesterday’s men, stands the narrative of Olorogun London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere (JP), a testament to resilience, sacrifice, and community service.

Born on May 15, 1947, to the Late Pa. and Mrs. Okuwhere Orephu, esteemed members of the Edjebo family in Ujovwre-Agbarha Otor, London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere’s lineage intertwines with the rich heritage of Delta state. His mother, Ighorido Ogbogbo, hailed from Ovara Unukpo, Orogun, adding depth to his familial roots.

Education became both a pursuit and a challenge for London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere. His journey commenced at C.M.S Anglican Primary School, Agbarha-Otor, where the rigors of admission mirrored the era’s standards, demanding a physical feat before intellectual pursuit. Financial constraints dictated his path, leading him to support his elder brother, the late Olorogun Johnson Ekokotu Okuwhere, during his schooling endeavours.

London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere’s academic voyage faced further hurdles when his brother’s educational journey elongated due to personal circumstances. Loyalty and familial duty tethered him to home, delaying his own educational aspirations until familial obligations were met.

Undeterred by setbacks, London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere eventually embarked on his educational odyssey, culminating in his enrollment at Notre Dame College, Ozoro, in 1968, where he earned his certificate in 1972.

Transitioning into adulthood, London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere navigated the realms of work and social responsibility with steadfast determination. His tenure at the Federal Office of Statistics, Ughelli, and subsequent role at the Board of Internal Revenue marked the chapters of his professional life. Rising through the ranks, he retired as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2010, leaving an indelible mark on the administrative landscape of Delta state.

His commitment to community service garnered recognition, evidenced by his appointment as a Justice of Peace by the Delta state government in 2011. Further accolades followed, including his investiture as the “APHOPHO” of Agbarha-Otor Kingdom in 2013, affirming his status as a revered figure within his community.

Married to Mrs. Comfort Okuwhere and Mrs. Felicia Okuwhere, London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere’s personal life mirrored the richness of his professional and communal endeavours. Blessed with nine children, his familial bonds mirrored the strength of his character, rooted in love, responsibility, and devotion.

For the records, I do not know London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere, but he is a great man, he is a representation of a few good old men and they are exiting, and question is a reflection of today’s generation, and how we often forget to celebrate these men and women off course, but not one but thousands of Nigerians are today engaged in the British Elderly Care System.

While that is a story for another day, I ask, do you know any London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere in your life? If yes, then this is a celebration of the lives of that generation, and the hope that we may still celebrate Nigeria…

And to the thrust of my conversation here, is that in Nigeria’s societal fabric, one thread often overlooked yet immensely crucial is the role and contribution of our senior citizens. These seasoned individuals, who have weathered life’s storms and witnessed the nation’s evolution, deserve not just recognition but also robust support systems that uphold their dignity and well-being in their later years. It’s high time we prioritised celebrating our elder citizens, not merely as a gesture of gratitude but as a strategic imperative for fostering a better future for Nigeria.

First and foremost, honouring our senior citizens is a moral obligation ingrained in the fabric of our culture. In Nigerian society, respect for elders is a cherished value, deeply rooted in traditions and customs. However, respect should not remain a mere sentiment; it must translate into tangible actions that enhance the quality of life for our elders. This entails creating policies and legislation that prioritise their needs, ranging from healthcare and housing to social inclusion and financial security.

One area where urgent attention is warranted is in the realm of pension administration. Despite significant strides in recent years, Nigeria’s pension system still faces challenges that hinder the seamless transition of retirees into their golden years. Delayed or inadequate pension payments, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and corruption within the pension administration apparatus have been recurring issues that undermine the well-being of retirees. Such systemic inefficiencies not only erode trust in the system but also exacerbate the financial vulnerability of our senior citizens.

To address these challenges, comprehensive reforms are imperative. The government must prioritise streamlining pension processes, enhancing transparency, and eliminating corruption within the system. Leveraging technology to digitise pension records and payments can significantly reduce delays and ensure timely disbursement of benefits to retirees. Moreover, stringent oversight mechanisms and accountability measures must be enforced to curb malfeasance and protect retirees’ funds.

Furthermore, there is a pressing need to expand social safety nets for senior citizens, particularly those who lack familial support or financial means. Establishing community-based care programmes, senior centers, and subsidised healthcare services can provide essential support to vulnerable elders, fostering social inclusion and alleviating their financial burdens. Additionally, initiatives such as tax breaks for pensioners and incentives for employers to hire older workers can enhance the economic security of retirees and promote their active participation in the workforce.

Beyond the moral imperative, investing in our senior citizens yields far-reaching societal benefits that extend to future generations. By ensuring that our elders enjoy a dignified and fulfilling later life, we set a precedent for younger generations to aspire to and emulate. Moreover, a society that values and supports its senior citizens fosters intergenerational solidarity, nurturing a sense of continuity and cohesion that transcends age divides.

In conclusion, the need to celebrate our senior citizens and prioritise their well-being cannot be overstated. As we strive to build a better Nigeria, let us recognise the invaluable contributions of our elders and commit to creating an enabling environment that honours their legacy and empowers them to live their later years with dignity and grace. By doing so, we not only honour our past but also pave the way for a brighter future for generations to come.

As I reminisces on the journey of London Omokiniovo-Okuwhere’s, his life and that of many stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of Nigeria’s past, the resilience of sons and daughters, and the legacy they leave for generations to come—May Nigeria win