To care for the elderly, Senator Oluremi Tinubu recently inaugurated a scheme known as Elderly Citizens Assistance Scheme (ECAS) that now provides support to elderly women in some parts of Lagos.
For a few nights in December 2012, she stayed awake. Many thoughts rushed through the tunnel of her mind. But in the end she says, "the elderly are our societal treasure. We cannot afford to neglect them."
And with those words at the back of her mind, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, inaugurated the Elderly Citizens Assistance Scheme (ECAS) recently as a platform established out of her passion to reduce the sufferings of elderly women in the 13 councils that make-up the Central senatorial district in Lagos State.
The inauguration of the scheme took place simultaneously across the councils under her senatorial district that include Surulere, Yaba, Coker-Aguda, Lagos Island, Eti-Osa, Lagos Mainland, Apapa, Apapa-Iganmu and Ikoyi-Obalende.
Speaking at Surulere Local Government during the inauguration of the scheme with the theme "The elderly, our societal treasure," Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, noted that the ceremony was the main highlight of the Fifth Lagos Central Senatorial District Town Hall Meeting.
She said: "The legislative agenda I began to pursue when I assumed office as a Senator representing this district was to give succour to the elderly, who have laboured for the country, particularly in the informal sectors, who now wait to no avail to reap the fruits of their labour. I thank God that I have been able to deliver on my promise to them by sponsoring bills to provide social security for the elderly."
While urging elders to be agents of change, she said, senior citizens can still make history. She urged them on by citing examples of the Dalai Lama of Tibet; Nelson Mandela of South Africa; Warren Buffet, who is one of the richest men in the world; and the Iyaloja-General of Nigeria, Alhaja Abibat Mogaji.
Tinubu said, "Many aged people are poor and homeless. Nigeria would not develop until we make provisions for the elderly, who are vulnerable. Our budgetary allocations often do not favour the elderly. This is an anomaly because our society should treasure the elderly, who are custodians of wisdom. We must remember that we can only solve our problems by combining the wisdom of our elders with the knowledge and energy of our youths."
Speaking further, Tinubu said: "Being elderly is a blessing and not a curse. I want our senior citizens to treasure their lives. Senior citizens should not rest on their oars because the society still needs them. Elderly citizens can play a big role in bringing up children. Many children brought up by their grandparents have grown up to become influential world leaders.
"We have the modern example of President Barack Obama of the United States and the biblical examples of Timothy, whose upbringing were influenced by their grandmothers." "ECAS was initiated to address poverty and social neglect among senior citizens,"she said.
Early last year, Tinubu sponsored a bill for the establishment of a National Social Security Agency for the provision of financial assistance to the elderly persons.
She said that the motivation that informed sponsoring of the bill was that since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 there has never been any significant legislation for social safety nets to protect millions of frail and struggling elderly citizens.
She also maintained that a country that seeks to become one of the world's leading economies by the year 2020 must have functional social protection systems. According to her, "without actualising such scheme for Nigeria's huge and vulnerable population we may be unconsciously sustaining some of the indices that rank us low on human development index.
So, addressing the challenges of elderly persons would be a significant step towards redressing some of our society's problems."
By supporting the bill, Tinubu said: "The lawmakers would be giving expression to the yearnings of many Nigerians especially that of our late President, Umar Yar' Adua who set up the Yakubu Gowon-led National Working Committee on Social Security Policy for Nigeria.
Speaking further, she added that "It is with a view to alleviate poverty among our elderly that I have initiated ECAS, a programme under which 1,300 participants will each benefit from the sum of N10,000 as part of constituency development initiative."
In Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Chairman of the council, Alhaji Olajide Jimoh complemented the senator's efforts by distributing cloths, towels and consumables to the elderly, while describing the senator as "a humanist, selfless-politician and dependable progressive, who cares for the needy."
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Lagos Island Local Council Development Area, Wasiu Eshilokun Sanni noted that the integration of the elderly women into the Elderly Citizens Assistance Scheme (ECAS), were done randomly and not base on party.
Speaking on Municipal Transport Service reintroduced in the area, Eshilokun said the reintroduction of the municipal transportation system called Lagos Island Municipal Service would ensure a befitting transportation system for the residents of the community.
He noted that the initiative was not only as a result of the shared vision between the two local governments but also that of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola who has supported the initiative and directed all affiliate agencies to collaborate with the two councils to ensure that project succeeds.
"The project will not only give Lagos Island a world-class transportation system, the scheme will also be an improvement in the infrastructure around Lagos Island.
It will create employment opportunities through support services and facilities management and improve government revenue through taxes from employers and dues from buses, which will have a multiplier effect on Lagos Island's economy and the state in general."