You don’t need to steal for retirement – Omokaro
By Cecilia Ologunagba
Dr Emem Omokaro, Director General, National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), has advised civil servant not to steal in service for the fear of unknown when they become senior citizens after retirement.
Omokaro, who gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, also advised them not to falsify their age for fear of becoming older citizens.
The NSCC said with the provision that the Federal Government had made to care for the older citizens, no civil servant should steal to amass wealth.
“You don’t need to steal. When you know that insurance is there. When you know that you can access health care, when you know that you can continue to engage after retirement.
“When you know that what is your due, your gratuity will be paid so it’s a multi sectoral and it takes political commitment and determination.
“The beauty of it is that we (NSCC) are backed by law and we are committed to reverse the material, psychological and economic derivations that all the old people face.
“But as a matter of fact, the truth is that yes, you may have the money, but you may be in a situation that you need the cash and you are lonely and that money can’t buy you the comfort you need.’’
She said the civil servants amass wealth when in service because of the unfriendly environment and because of the multi-dimensional poverty of older people, and because of the administration of pensions.
She said there was a time in Nigeria where the toil of senior citizens wasn’t commensurate with the compensation they got when they retire.
The director general also said there was no value, respect, and dignity in retirement that became like a norm and brought a culture of fear of old age.
“So, that is why we have that mandate and NSCC by legislation to start the campaigns and put things in place that people will see concretely, to know that you can grow old in Nigeria and be dignified.
“There is no excuse for corruption or stealing money. Do you understand? Because the money that you have compromised can affect your future. What should have been used to develop infrastructure.
“What should have been used to put institutions in place that will help you in your future. So, no matter how you amass the money, you cannot help yourself at a certain age.
“So, it’s better that we become forthright and then, we all get determined to ensure that we build a future that we want to grow old in,’’ she said.
Speaking on the achievements of the NSCC, she said that the Centre had addressed paucity of data by partnering with relevant agencies such as National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)
“What we did was as soon as we were inaugurated, we identified the agencies with statutory mandate and that we could get data from; so our first call was NBS.’’
According to her, NSCC is discussing with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) for support to conduct a National Multi-Indicator Survey on ageing.
Omokaro said that the survey would provide all the indicators needed and the Centre could then build a baseline from there.
On funding, she said that the NSCC had been receiving funding allocation from Federal Government.
“The government never funded ageing so people needed to understand ageing as development issue, but they still continue to see it as a poverty issue.
“But we are breaking grounds, getting partnership, technical support because my philosophy is that when they now see it, they will support, for instance when we launched Strategic Roadmap on Ageing.
“They saw different dimension and holistic approach and their agencies compelled to be part of it. It leads to understanding, they see us developing programmes,’’ the director general said.
On challenges, Omokaro said dynamics of partnership had been a big challenge to the progress of the Centre, noting that what you want is the statutory mandate of a ministry and you cannot run ahead of them.
“For instance, health, we want to develop care competency certification, we cannot do it without regulatory agencies. we have to bring all of regulatory agencies on table to understand it.
“Our greatest challenge is the pace in which our partners move, they have other initiatives they focus on statutory, it’s not only older people that they focus on, they focus on entire population.
“The pace is a challenge because they too are occupied with so many things and it’s the dynamic of partnership that determines your pace and range you want to go.
“Another challenge is ageism, that negative perspective that you need to campaign to change them when you go the ministries, they have been doing things for so many years without including older people,” she said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Ismail Abdulaziz