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‘Why we spent N1.7 billion on the elderly in Ekiti State’ – GOV. KAYODE FAYEMI

Dr. Kayode Fayemi’s passion for political and social reformation in Ekiti State received a boost as the number of beneficiaries of the Ekiti State Social Security Scheme was increased to 25,000 on Friday, October 25, 2013. The governor had assured that the life-enhancing scheme which provides N5,000 monthly stipend to elderly citizens above 65 years has come to stay.

Dr. Fayemi, who gave the assurance at the second anniversary of the implementation of the social security scheme which is the first of its kind in West Africa, reiterated the commitment of his administration to providing monthly succour to the elderly citizens, even as the scheme is already backed up by a law in the state.

ENCOMIUM Weekly’s check revealed that Dr Fayemi inducted another 5,000 elderly citizens to the existing database of 20,000. We also learnt that the state government had expended N1.7 billion on the programme which is now being replicated by Osun, Bayelsa and Anambra states.

The governor confirmed that his administration, in pursuit of welfare packages for the elderly citizens, is in the process of setting up an Old People’s Home to cater for those who face extreme challenges at old age.

“I wish to reiterate that the provision of the social security monthly allowance for the elderly citizens has come to stay in Ekiti State. The legislation entrenching this is already part of the laws of Ekiti State. And as alluded, a total number of 20,000 people are benefiting from the scheme to which an additional 5,000 beneficiaries now included makes it 25,000 beneficiaries of the scheme. Till date, a sum of over N1.7 billion has been spent on the programme”, Fayemi explained.

The newly inducted beneficiaries as well as the existing ones, according to Fayemi, are expected to complete a new enumeration form which is aimed at providing identity cards to prevent impersonation at the various payment centres.

“I have been inundated with complaints about people who impersonate and even collect the monthly stipends on behalf of some elderly people, who, on account of ill health, could not make it to the payment centres but refused to deliver such money to the appropriate beneficiaries. These and other unfortunate conducts have now informed the government’s decision to introduce a more scientific payment process that will involve the use of biometric data capturing system that will eliminate activities of  ghost beneficiaries”, he said.

Justifying the government’s decision to give attention to the elderly citizens, the governor explained that of all the age groups, the elderly who have little or no social safety, appear to be the most vulnerable, despite spending their most productive years serving the society.

In his own words, the Commissioner for Labour, Productivity and Human Capital Development, Mr. Oluwole Ariyo, asserted that the scheme has impacted the lives of the elderly citizens.

Also speaking at the event, two of the beneficiaries, Pa Samuel Oyewole and Mrs. Taiwo Abike thanked the governor for his love for the elderly citizens and assured that they would continue to give him support beyond the present term.

Another beneficiary, Mrs. Margret Abegunde said, “I collect N5,000 monthly from the government. I enjoy free health services and free meals. Fayemi is taking care of the aged. I am close to 90 and I can say this is the first time I’m experiencing such a thing”.

The climax of the event was when the governor spoke to the people in Ekiti dialect and danced with them, while they also prayed for him and the continuity of his administration so that they could continue to enjoy the scheme as well as other people-oriented programmes of the administration.

The official logo of the social security scheme visual identity was unveiled at the event, which was also rounded off with an anniversary luncheon.

 

Information available to ENCOMIUM Weekly revealed the actual figures representing the local governments given to the aged as at the end of July 2013.

 

‘I CARE FOR THE ELDERLY’

Why the idea of a monthly allowance for the elderly?

The idea of a monthly allowance for the elderly in our state was borne out of a strategic engagement that tackles poverty on multiple levels in the effort to make it history in Ekiti State. In the manifesto through which I sought the mandate of our people as governor, I promised to deliver on people-focused policies that would banish poverty from Ekiti, as have been clearly articulated in our 8-point agenda, one of the practical manifestations of which is the social security programme.

I am aware that the war against poverty is not one that can be effectively wagged using a single weapon or plan due to the fact that poverty evolves from a variety of factors of differing depths and complexity. It is important to note that the issue of poverty, though relatively, cuts across most age groups in Nigeria, and in Ekiti State, yet of all these groups, elderly people, who largely have little or no social safety nets, appear to be the most vulnerable.

A good number of them have spent their productive years labouring in one form or the other, to render services and make contributions to society, with little or no meaningful income to fall back on during old age. Many of them are weak, while some are facing a lot of health challenges associated with old age, including terminal illnesses and disease.

This scheme, which is the first in Nigeria and in the West African sub-region, will continue to provide succour and fairly decent means of livelihood for our elderly citizens throughout old age.

What’s special about the second anniversary?

The second security scheme introduced by our administration in 2011, shortly after we assumed office, is two years today. Apart from utilizing this opportunity to celebrate with our elderly folks who are beneficiaries of the scheme, it is also an occasion to take stock and appraise the journey of the programme so far.

I have been inundated with complains about people who impersonate and even collect the monthly stipends on behalf of some elderly people who, on account of ill-health, could not make it to the payment centres, but who refuse to deliver such money to the appropriate beneficiaries.

I have also received reports of some people coming to collect money for folks who are already dead and buried. These and other unfortunate conducts have informed the decision to introduce a more scientific payment process that will involve the use of a biometric data capturing system that will eliminate the activities of ghost beneficiaries.

Thus, as contained in my independence anniversary broadcast to the people of Ekiti State and in fulfillment of my administration’s promise of catering for 20,000 beneficiaries and more on the scheme, I have directed another 5000 newer beneficiaries. That makes the total 25,000. Till date, a sum of over N1.7 billion has been spent on the programme. And as a first step towards providing for the elderly who have no other source of welfare, our administration is in the process of setting up an old people’s home to cater for the well-being of those who face extreme challenges at old age.

–  FEMI OYEWALE

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