The Speaker, House of Representative; Honorable Yakubu Dogara has commended the initiative and decision of the leadership and members of the Committee of Women Affairs, Social Development, Youth Development and Telecommunication for taking up the consolidated bills on the provision of services to the Elderly, the Youth and the Children’s Trust Fund. Speaking during the public hearing on the bills for the Elderly, Unemployed Youths and Children, Hon. Dogara stated that, the legislature and indeed the House of Representatives in recognition of the changing needs of the society has at different times demonstrated in resolutions, Bills and other measures, the will to address the needs and challenges of different segments of the society.
Ably represented by the Deputy Minority leader, Honorable Chukwuemeka Onyema during the public hearing on Tuesday, the speaker noted that, the consolidated bills will provide remedy to major problems in our health and social sectors, and also the plight of the ageing and elderly persons of whom there are no provisions to cater for their needs in the Nigerian society. According to Hon. Dogara, “the socio-economic and health needs of these senior citizens are mostly taken care of by their family members, as there are no facilities and amenities provided by either Government or private concerns to provide support for the elderly in Nigeria”.
The Public hearing which was organized with the support of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) and the European Union, is aimed at creating a window of participation for all Nigerians in the Legislative process for the Enactment of Laws relating to the Elderly, the Youth and Children.
Sponsored by Hon. Rasheed Akinade Fijabi and Hon. Joan Onyemaechi Mrakpor, public hearing on the bills as opined by the speaker, will provide opportunity for all segments of the society to contribute to the provision and strengthening of social security institutions and programs to deliver more effective services for majority of targeted Nigerians.
He further urged all stakeholders to peruse the bills diligently and make robust contributions that will give the desired shape to the legislations proposed through the bills.
Making her remark, the Chairman House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Honourable Princess Stella Ngwu commended the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), Centre for Legislative Engagement and the European for its support in making the Public hearing a success.
The National Council for Elderly Persons (Establishment) Bill seeks to establish a National Council for Elderly Persons for the general purpose of providing Welfare and recreational facilities, Developmental programmes and activities for the advancement of Elderly persons in Nigeria. When established, the Council shall promote research into matters related to Elderly persons, create a data bank, facilitate the formulation of policies in areas of Finance, Recreation, Sports and Healthcare for the Elderly, provide guidance for counseling for Elderly persons, register and regulate the activities of residential facilities for elderly persons in Nigeria among other functions. The Bill further seeks to establish a Fund for the Council in which money as may be approved by the Federal Government shall be paid into for the administration and activities of the council.
The Unemployed Youths, Elderly and Indigent Sustainability Allowances Trust Bill has creatively proposed to establish a Fund to be known as the Unemployed Youths, Elderly and Indigent Sustainability Allowances Trust Fund with 30% of the money accruing from the Communication Service Tax to be utilized for the Emergency needs and Services such as payment of stipends to the unemployed, subsidizing infant, hypertension, and Diabetes drugs.
It is our hope that invited stakeholders in their presentations and submissions in this Public Hearing would suggest the best ways to harmonize the provisions of these two proposals to enable the Committees make appropriate recommendations on the consolidated Bills to the Committee of the Whole House.
The Nigerian Children’s Trust Fund (Amendment) Bill, on the other seeks to amend the Nigerian Children’s Fund Act to initiate suited modalities for Child protection and care for the proper administration and distribution of Welfare services and to ensure that the benefit of the Fund is accessible to all Nigerian children.