The international day for older persons was introduced by the United Nations (UN) on December 14, 1990 and October 1 was voted as the International Day of Older Persons as recorded in the Resolution 45/106. The holiday was observed for the first time on October 1, 1991. It is observed to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly and also to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society.
It is estimated that almost 700 million people in the world are now over the age of 60 and by 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. In Nigeria, those aged 65 years and above make up about 4.3 percent of the total population which was put at 140,431,790 million according to 2006 population exercise.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 70 this year and the International Day for Older Persons celebrates the importance of this Declaration, and reaffirms the commitment to promoting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons. Hence, the theme for this year’s celebration “celebrating older human rights champions”
Offthehook foundation for Rural Dwellers has continuously worked for the past three years now to ensure that the old persons in rural areas are adequately celebrated for their contributions in their various communities. The foundation seeks to ensure that the rights of older persons are not toiled with and also provides basic necessities for them.
The elderly in Imo State were celebrated and honoured by Offthehook Foundation for Rural Dwellers during this year’s International Old Peoples Day held at Chokoneze Sports Arena in Ezinihitte Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State.
The event started at 10:00am with arrival of senior citizens from various parts of Imo state for registration and accreditation. Also various guests and witnesses from within and outside the state arrived for the event.
The medical team was as well present at the venue with available kits and drugs to check and administer to the senior citizens.
The occasion was chaired HRH, Eze (Sir) R.J.C Agunwamba. In attendance were also Traditional rulers from various communities, Ugoezes, Nze’s and Clergy men.
Activities of the event began with an opening prayer by Venerable Ozioma Nwaogazi thereafter followed a welcome address by the founder of the Foundation, Ugoeze (Lady) Chigbo Nwamara.
Speaking during the occasion, founder of the Foundation, Ugoeze (Lady) Chigbo Nwamara thanked all that assisted the foundation in one way or the other towards making the celebration a memorable one for the aged. She revealed that the Foundation is planning to build an Old People’s home, where the old persons can be kept and given adequate care, adding that the celebration will be better by next year.
Giving a talk to the elderly, the Vicar of St Paul’s Anglican Church, Chokoneze, Venerable Ozioma Nwaogazi said the scripture is clear that anyone that clocks above 70 years is living by the special grace of God. He urged them to live and stand by the truth at all times, saying that at above 70 years, they have no reason to do things that are despicable and wicked before the Lord and urged such a person to have a turnaround and live right before God.
HRH Eze Reginald Aguwamba of Okpofe autonomous community in Ezinihitte Mbaise LGA, expressed gratitude to OffTheHook Foundation for deeming it very necessary to always celebrate the old people every year. He flayed the nonchalant attitude of the government and politicians in Nigeria on the issue of celebrating with the old people during their day, saying that partisan political mattes have distracted and engaged them.
Also speaking at the event, the chairman Eze Aguwamba admonished the senior citizens to age gracefully and do positive things within their abilities and not just to live like Methuselah. He called for the inclusion of both the old and youths in next year’s celebration.
Ichie Titus Ibe , urged old people to always play their rightful roles in directing the youths well. He equally commended HRH Eze Mike and Ugoeze Chigbo Nwamara for their efforts.
Nze and Lolo Robert .U. Anyanwu in their speeches lauded the royal couple for their efforts in carrying the rural dwellers along in the society. Nze Anyanwu said they came to support the foundation and will inform Nigerians in the United States of America what HRH Eze Nwamara and his Ugoeze are doing in Nigeria. On her part, Lolo Anyanwu expressed happiness that they came for the occasion and prayed God for the blessing of old age.
High point of the event was the recognition of the oldest man and woman present at the event and the old man of the year award. Mr. John Ihechere aged 99 years from umueze chokoneze and Mrs. Magret Ezebuiro aged 100 years from umuchoko chokoneze were the old man and woman for the day respectively while Pa Bernard Isiokwu bagged the old man of the year award for his enormous contribution in his community despite him being physically impaired, he is aged 82. They were each awarded with a cash price of #5,000 and a bag of rice. Every other old person present was also presented with raw food items each. These act of kindness brought joy and happiness to these great old people which in return brought fulfillment to the foundation because it is her priority to put smiles on faces.
Side attractions at the event included a dance presentation by offthehook foundation cultural troupe and also dance by the old people and guests present.
In a vote of thanks, HRH Eze Mike Nwamara of Umuchoko-Chokoneze autonomous community thanked all that graced the event for their time especially all those that helped in one way or the other towards making the International Old Peoples Day a huge success. He promised that the celebration will be better in 2019 and also urged the old people to let their children know and lend their support towards the celebration of the event by next year.
VIEW PICTURES BELOW: