UN expert prompts Buhari to pass bill on older persons 

A UN-appointed independent human rights expert, Ms Claudia Mahler called on President Muhammadu Buhari to endorse the pending Older Persons Bill (Rights and Privileges).

The rights expert made the call on Friday at the end of her 12-day visit to Nigeria, saying that signing the Bill into law would be part of the extended legacy of Buhari to improve the rights of older persons.

As contained in a statement, Mahler said the Older Persons Bill once approved I
would render the most extensive legal framework ever accessible for older persons Nigeria, tackling among others, the social and economic challenges provoked by ageing.

The lack of social protection floors, including a regular distribution of pensions, contribute to the drawback that older persons encounter in accessing social services, including appropriate healthcare, various care options, and adequate housing.

Older people in vulnerable situations – particularly those with disabilities, internally displaced and living below the poverty line , should be prioritised by the government when implementing legal and policy tools, she said.

“Continued efforts, along with political will and appropriate budgeting, must be strengthened to ensure that legal and policy safeguards protect the rights of all older persons all over the Nigerian territory in practice.

“This should be done indistinctive of their sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, and their living and economic situations,” the expert stressed.

According to Mahler, Nigeria must carry out already adopted measures to safeguard older persons against ageism and age discrimination, both of which are still widespread.

She added that in spite of praiseworthy progress on legal and policy safeguards for older persons, the country should advance more.

She hailed the government’s progressive efforts in battling poverty, security concerns, economic crisis, and gender-based inequalities faced by many older people.

The expert hoped the efforts would translate into the adoption of the National Senior Citizens Centre Act and the establishment of a dedicated Centre at Federal Government level to ensure that the human rights of older persons were mainstreamed in all programmes and activities.

Mahler, during her visit, convened with several government authorities at federal and state levels, civil society, stakeholders working on the rights of older persons and the elderly themselves.

She will deliver a comprehensive report of her findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2023.

“I hope my report and recommendations will assist the country to reduce inequalities and ensure a life in dignity for all older persons in the country,” she stated.

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