Humanitarian Minister Meets With UN Independent Expert On The Enjoyment Of Human Rights Of Older Persons [Full Speech]

SPEECH OF THE HONOURABLE MINISTER, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS, DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, SADIYA UMAR — FAROUQ ON THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING WITH THE UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT ON THE ENJOYMENT OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS OF OLDER PERSONS, MONDAY, 29TH AUGUST 2022.

Protocol

1. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, I am delighted to welcome you, Dr. Claudia Mahler, United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights of Older Persons, and your team to Nigeria. It gives me great pleasure to note your interest in visiting Nigeria at this time, with a view to having a general overview of Nigeria’s ongoing efforts at addressing the rights of older persons in the country.

2. I am also aware of your desire to assess Nigeria’s mechanisms and processes in strengthening the protection of the rights of older persons to identify best practices in Nigeria that can be promoted, or possible gaps in the implementation of national, regional and international standards that may be relevant to the rights of older persons. You also aim to identify the challenges we may be facing towards the realization of the rights of older persons, with a view to making related recommendations to address them.

3. The Ministry serves as the nexus to bridge Nigeria’s comprehensive and multi-sectoral efforts to ensure inclusive social development, disaster mitigation and coordinated humanitarian responses in Nigeria. It established on 21st August, 2019, with the mandate to provide leadership and coordinate all matters relating to Humanitarian challenges, Disaster Management and Social Development in Nigeria. It oversees nine 9 related agencies and departments:

1. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

2. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

3. National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NPWD)

4. National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP)

5. National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons

6. North East Development Commission

7. National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office

8. National Social Investment Programme (NSIP)

9. National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC)

4. Under the purview of the Ministry, a number of policies have been developed to provide cardinal directions and framework for program design, planning and implementation in the statutory areas. These include the National Policy on Ageing, Revised Social Protection Policy, Policy on Internally Displaced Persons, Policy on Persons with Disability, and Policy on Prohibition of Trafficking and Violence Against Persons, including older persons. The Ministry has also developed a comprehensive Strategic Roadmap for effective coordination.

5. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of 206 million and a total of 14.9 million older persons currently living here. The country has a growth rate at 3.2 %, and in spite of the huge and growing youth population, it is projected that Nigeria will record 28.8 million older persons by 2050. (NBS 2019).

6. It is in realization of the above that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into Law the Act to establish National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) in 2017. This represents the first distinct and focal body to reorient citizens’ negative perceptions and attitude about Ageing and older persons and stem discrimination and abuse.

7. The Federal Executive Council in 2021, approved the National Policy which is rooted in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other international and regional instruments, including the Madrid International Plan of Action. The objective is to guarantee security, independence, participation, comprehensive care, self-fulfillment and dignity of older persons in Nigeria, through the facilitation of their inclusion in Nigeria’s National Development Plan and Sustainable Development Goals. The document covers intersecting spectrum of issues and opportunities for all older persons in both the urban and rural communities such as older migrants, internally displaced and poor older persons.

8. The National Senior Citizens Centre has the mandate to identify the needs of senior citizens in Nigeria and to cater for them. The statutory remit of the NSCC is also rooted and aligned with the recommendations and pledges of the strategic objectives of the National Policy on Ageing, with the overall goal of strengthening the protection of the rights of older persons

9. Under the livelihood and entrepreneurship development programme, older entrepreneurs have been mainstreamed into the Matured People Program for cash grant of Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) in 18 states of the Federation. The Federal Government has recently started payment of cash transfer to the poorest of the poor indigent older persons in the country, presently ongoing.

10. Standardized guidelines on models of senior centers, programme and environmental designs, core competencies in administration and development of multi-generational community eco — system, as well as Care Quality Assurance are currently being developed. The National Senior Citizens Centre, with technical support of the UN Division of Inclusive Social Development, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs United Nations, trained forty (40) master trainers, in the bid to build the critical mass of experts in health and social care.

11. To curb discrimination and accelerate integration of older persons in National Development Plan, the Centre has established Ageing Desks and trained 64 desk officers on Ageing Policy, planning and implementation in 32 ministries, departments and agencies. Older persons’ issues are being mainstreamed in all sector policies, strategic implementation plans, programs, services and budget lines. So far, the mainstreaming of Integrated care for older persons into States Primary Health Care schemes through partnerships with WHO and National Primary Health Care Development Agencies is being piloted in the FCT and Adamawa State.

● The National Health Insurance Authority Bill, which has incorporated older persons amongst vulnerable groups for free healthcare without payment of premium, was recently signed into law.

● Older persons are recipients of the Grants for the Vulnerable Groups, with 15% allocation reserved for older persons

These achievements are all within the period of this administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and, it is my hope that more would be achieved in the near future to fully realize the achievement of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals.

12. The Federal Government is making concerted efforts to direct the domestication and establishment of Senior Citizens Centres at the sub-national levels, in collaboration with the States and Local Governments. A Bill on the Rights and Privileges of Older Persons in the country has been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and is awaiting assent into Law by Mr. President. This will be yet another instrument deployed in strengthening specific human rights of older persons.

13. At the regional level, Nigeria has signed the Protocol to the African Union Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Rights of Older Persons, and is working to ratify it. Nigeria, within the 12 years of the General Assembly Open-ended Working Group on Ageing, has supported efforts to deliver on the recommendations of the UN Secretary General to accelerate the presentation of a proposal to the General Assembly towards the drafting of a UN Convention on the rights of older persons.

14. In welcoming you, let me reiterate Nigeria’s commitment to support any process, including cross-regional Inter-Sessional meetings of like-minded member states to move forward the Convention on the Rights of older persons.

15. While looking forward to receiving your findings and recommendations, I wish to assure you that in the next five years, with the multi-sectoral partnerships and synergies created across Federal, States and Local governments, Nigeria commits to continuing to provide a strong passionate and committed leadership and to accelerate investments in its older population for strengthened human rights, improved quality of life and enjoyment of all older persons including those living with disabilities and cognitive impairments..

I wish you a successful special procedure.

Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq

Hon. Minister.

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