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Onaiyekan advocates free health care for elderly, decries non-payment of gratuity

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
28 June 2022   |   2:41 am
The Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has urged government to provide free health care and social security packages for the elderly in the country.

Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan

The Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan has urged government to provide free health care and social security packages for the elderly in the country.

The Archbishop insisted that those that never worked for the government or any company are in dire need of such interventions.

Speaking at the service to mark the 2022 Father’s Day at the Holy Family Catholic Church, life Camp, Abuja, with the theme, “Celebrating the elderly”, Onaiyekan, berated the government at all levels for owing retirees gratuity and pension, regretted that most of the retirees are living in penury after devoting the greater part of their lives working for the government.

He lamented that the situation is even worse for the elderly, who never worked for any government or company.

He said: “In Europe and America, the elderly have adequate coverage through social security, so that no elderly dies of hunger. They also have free health care, which is where we should be aiming at in this country but unfortunately, we are still very far from it. I am thinking of the large number of elderly people, who didn’t work for the government or any company and have no right to any pension, their situation is even worse because the only thing they can rely on is their children. So, many elders are neglected in our society today. This is a terrible moment. In the past, in our traditional setting, the elderly were not left on their own but in modern life, they are left on their own and in villages, nobody cares for them. We need to find a way of making life better for the elderly.”

Also speaking, Chairman of the Catholic Men Organisation (CMO), Cyril Ezeani, urged government to do more in caring for the elderly.

He stressed the need to inculcate in young Nigerians, the dying culture and consciousness of taking care of the elderly.

“To honour and obey parents is the only commandment of God that comes with a promise and one of the best promises for that is longevity,” Ezeani added.

He also urged the Church and other faith-based institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and governments to establish recreational centres for the elderly.

“A place they can go, socialise and play games to kill the boredom of loneliness and abandonment,” he added.

The Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Anthony Olaniyan, said Nigerians should celebrate senior citizens by spending time with them and making them happy.

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