Federal Government may need to take the initiative of leading other arms of government in the establishment of facilities for senior citizens in the country, if the plan must be realised.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in January, during the Federal Executive Council meeting, had signed into law the National Senior Citizens’ Centre Act, 2018, and the Legislative Houses (Power and Privileges) 2018.
The National Senior Citizens’ Centre Act, 2018, establishes the National Senior Citizens’ Centre, to cater for the needs of senior citizens.
Sen. Ita Enang, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), said the act allows the establishment of national senior citizens’ centres by institutions and the three tiers of government in the country to cater for the needs of older persons.
“National Senior Citizens’ Centre Act, which makes it compulsory that institutions and the government would establish and have National Senior Citizens Centres to allow for proper care, training, orientation/reorientation and care of senior citizens in Nigeria,” he said.
However, a non-governmental organisation, Ghalp Caregivers Academy, said the federal government must match its policy on the importance of caring for elderly citizens with action by establishing the centres.
President of the group, Dr. David Olalekan, speaking at the graduation of over 700 American Caregiver Association-trained and certified professionals in Ibadan, Oyo State, at the weekend, said over 720,000 jobs could be created in the process.
According to him, as each state is mandated to establish homes in all the local governments, each state might need up to 20,000 caregivers to work in the homes as well as in hospitals.
He said, “We want to start with Oyo State here, and we believe that, if we get the opportunity to train people who are looking for jobs, they can be absorbed into all these homes and that will be taking a big burden off the shoulders of government in the area of job creation.
“In Oyo state alone, over 20,000 can be engaged, some of them will work in the facilities that will be established and some can work in hospitals to stand in the gap for doctors and nurses.
“We believe that it is possible, if government, state governors’ wives and other institutions can make it their pet projects.”
Olalekan said the act has further opened Nigerians to global opportunities and careers in care-giving in Nigeria and outside the country.
“With the signing of the bill, which now makes it mandatory for our senior citizens to be catered for just like we have abroad, there is need for special hands in those centres to be created. That alone means over 720,000 jobs could be created annually locally.
“In the United States of America, 20,000 caregivers are provided yearly and over 40,000 presently work as caregivers,” he said.
He explained that Nigerians could earn forex through working abroad and remitting money back to the country.
Olalekan advised Nigerians working abroad or those who are about to go outside the country for caregiving or any other official jobs to always consider themselves as ambassadors of the country: “I believe that we should have a mind of coming back to build our country. Some years back, Ethiopia could not boast of anything, but the country today is one of the best in the continent through what her citizens who went abroad and returned back have been able to do,” he said.
He said the academy has the franchise to train people in West Africa for ACA certification.