…As Bill scales 2nd reading
By Ignatius Okorocha
The Senate on Tuesday passed to second reading a Bill seeking to provide certain rights and privileges for older persons in order to ensure health and economic reliefs and protection for their social and civil rights.
This is even as the Bill prescribed a six months jail term or a fine of N200,000.00 for an individual and a fine of N2,000,000.00 for a corporate body charged to have discriminated against older persons.
Recall that the Bill titled the Older persons (rights and privileges) bill 2019 was read for the First Time on the floor of the Hallowed Chamber of the Senate on the 7th of November, 2019.
In his lead debate, sponsor of the Bill, Sen. Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi (IMO East ) explained that some of the challenges facing the elderly in Nigeria include challenges of retirement, ageism, and social isolation among others.
He noted that indeed , an ageing population poses numerous social and economic challenges, but the right set of policies can equip society to address these challenges in time.
Consequently,he said the Bill essentially:”1. Provides for the Strengthening and Protection of the Rights of Older persons. Underlisted are some of it’s provisions
i. Older Persons shall have the right to social protection, including income security without discrimination on the basis of age or gender.
ii. Discrimination against Older Persons on the basis of age is prohibited.
iii. Older Persons shall have the right to adequate standard of living, including the right to food, water, clothing and housing, and to improve their living conditions without discrimination on the basis of age.
iv. Older Persons shall have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health and long term care without discrimination on the basis of age, including public health, preventive medicine, palliative care and rehabilitation.
v. An Older Person shall have right to safe and smooth movement on streets, walkways, gatherings and physical structures free of unreasonable physical contact from other persons.
vi. An Older Person shall have the right to enjoy preferential seating positions on taxis, buses, trains and other means of public transport. Older Persons shall be given flrst consideration in queues and public spaces; and as much as possible they should be attended to outside the queue.”
Meanwhile the sponsor Identified the peculiar human Rights Situation of older persons by reason of age, distinct from other population cohorts. Under-listed are some of its provisions:
“i. Older persons shall be safe-guarded from all situations of risks, including situations of violence, emergencies and the occurrences of natural disasters.
“ii. Older Persons shall be entitled to social safety. nets to cushion the effects of economic shocks, disasters and calamities among others.”
The Bill Prescribes punitive measures where their rights are denied and such measures include :”i. Any person who discriminates an Older Person on the ground of his age or disability commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to, if the person is:
(a) a body corporate, a fine of N2,000,000.00; and
(b) an individual, a fine of N200,000.00 or 6 months’ imprisonment or both.”