THE Nigeria Union of Pensioners has asked the Federal Government to provide free medical care and services for Nigerians who attain the age of 60 years and above.
The Union has also called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to prevail on the state governors for them to pay backlog of pension arrears owed to retirees in their states.
Deputy General Secretary of NUP, Chief Joseph Adeniyi Okuade, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at one-day summit on ageing organised by the “I-Care Initiative for the Aged,” a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
The call came as a retired Federal Permanent Secretary from Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala, expressed concern that Nigeria’s older adults would increase from about 6.98 million in 2006 to 9.74 million by 2020, with its attendant challenges.
Okuade, who painted a gloomy picture of some retirees in some states of the federation, said many of them were owed for more than one year while others have been owed several months of pension and other entitlements.
He threatened that if nothing was done to address the plight of the pensioners, especially in the states, the union would mobilise it to lock out all the governors of the affected states.
He said: “President Buhari should prevail on the governors during the council meeting for them to pay our members. While the Federal Government is trying the story is not the same in the states. A lot of them are owed for about one year, some several months. We went to Imo State to lock out Okorocha before and we will still go there.
“A governor just lost his state election, I won’t mention him, but all of you know that when we went to him that our people are dying, pay them their money; he said they should die, are they not old, when election came we said we will not support. All of you saw what happened,” he said.
eanwhile, a former Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobiala, in his keynote address at the occasion lamented that Nigeria has paid little attention not only to the plight of aged but also towards taking advantage of what the aged could offer to the society.
He said the summit was timely as there was the urgent need for all to join hands to advocate for institutionalisation of policies, programmes, projects as well as legislation that caters for the needs and welfare of the elderly persons, including promotion and protection of their rights.
Executive Director of “I-Care Initiative for the Aged,” Mrs Chinyere Ezeh, in her welcome address said the summit was organised to raise consciousness on Nigerians on the plight of older persons and the need for proactive policy action in the tackling the challenges.
She noted that the gap in older person’s protection breaches and jeopardises the future of the today’s youth who would be part of the largest population of older persons in time to come according to the recent statistics.