In a bid to ensure that the person’s in the society are protected and provided for a former President of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, Ms Evelyn Onyilo, has called for the establishment of a commission for the protection of older persons.
Onyilo made the call while delivering a Keynote Address, Monday in Abuja, at a training programme in gerontology and geriatrics for journalists organised by The Dave Omokaro African Institute on Ageing and Development (DOFRIAD) in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Council, with the theme: Leveraging the Power of the Media for Social Justice in the Context of Inclusion of Older Persons in Development.
According to her, “A commission for the protection of older persons should be created as a matter of priority. Such a commission will put in place the modalities for the inclusion of older persons in the development agenda of Nigeria.”
The keynote speaker, who is also the Founder of the Initiative for Women’s Accelerated Development in Africa (INWOAD), said: “The fast growing number of older persons during the last few decades has significantly impacted on the political, economic, and social functions of societies in both industrialised and developing regions.”
She said there was need to talk about the aged and the media had a pivotal role to play in that sustaining the issues as it concerns empowerment of the aged especially with people retiring earlier than before.
She tasked participants to examine germane areas like where the aged fit into news determinants, how to galvanise efforts and take control of how to report the aged in the social media as well as how to make the issue of the aged attractive to the youth.
“The media should be in the forefront of advocating and working with other NGOs to compel the NASS to enact laws that would cater for the welfare of older persons.
“Our media houses, reporters, and editors should make deliberate efforts to focus on the plight of our vulnerable senior citizens in their news reports.
“Let’s give them voices to speak again by paying consistent attention to them even the government will take note and perhaps do the needful by establishing institutional framework for the alleviation of the sufferings and hardships being faced by our dear older person,” she declared.
Earlier in his opening remark, the Chairman NUJ FCT Council, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche, said ageing was a demographic reality and it was important that the issue of ageing and its attendant challenges were addressed in a holistic manner to get all sectors of society especially government to take definitive steps to protect the aged.
He said, “It is not clear if Nigeria has a functional national policy on the care and welfare of older persons. I am unaware of any. Perhaps, I as many others will gain clarity on this.
“With changing demographics and the progressive breakdown of the family structure and absence of a social security system, the elderly in Nigeria are faced with unique challenges.
“Today, there is a vacuum in policy formulation and execution in which the older persons are not provided for within the social safety nets.”
He appreciated the organisers of the programme noting it was the sort of opportunities the NUJ FCT craves in building institutional synergy for the good of society.
The training, which will last for five days, has participants drawn from different media organisation cutting across print, electronic and the new media.