Dr. Claudia Mahler, the UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights of older persons has called on the Federal Government to step up efforts in the payment of pension to older persons.

Mahler made the call on Friday in Abuja at a news conference on her 12-day experiences in Nigeria to access issues concerning older persons.

“In my 12 days in Nigeria, I have been to Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan and Makurdi where I met with different stakeholders, civil servants, agencies, CSOs and older persons themselves.

“My visit was to access the level of enjoyment of human rights of older persons. From estimation, in 2050, there might be 25.3 million older persons in Nigeria.

“You can see there is a huge demography change, that is why I came to Nigeria to raise awareness, because the demography change is a global issue.

“Social protection and pension is an issue. I was informed that many older persons wait for long time, sometimes for years to get their pension allowances.

“That is why I also urge the Federal Government to step up its efforts to ensure the establishment of a strong, inclusive and steady protection system, including payment of pension allowances to all older persons who are entitled,” Mahler said.

She said other issues that she observed were ageism which had to do with widespread of negative stereotype against older persons and healthcare for older persons.

According to her, most people in Nigeria see older persons as beneficiaries who should be taken care of.

“But I can assure you that older persons are entitled to human rights for the rest of their lives.

“I also observed that healthcare for older persons is still scarce. They go to the General Hospital for treatment by personnel that may not have the capacity to deal with illness peculiar to older persons.

“And sometimes, older persons wait a long time to see a medical doctor. At times, they face serious obstacle to get the right treatment.

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“However, Nigeria has strong economy in Africa and the country has commitment to legal and implementable framework on issues concerning the protection of older persons.

“The National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC) Act is the first law in African State which protects human rights of older persons and it has mainstreamed older persons into all areas of policy,” she said.

She said NSCC has been doing a lot on working with stakeholders on ground to get first hand information and bring effective and inclusive programme to older persons.

“I was very happy to see that NSCC has signed Memorandum of Understanding with National Primary Health Care Development Agency and many others to include healthcare services to older persons in the rural areas.”

Mahler stressed that Nigeria was diverse in language, culture and geography, adding that her report would be submitted in September 2023 to the Human Rights Council. (NAN)