A Special Pleasure Tourism Package for Senior Citizens Launched In Uyo, Targets 60-65 Age Bracket, Says Amb. Udoh

As Akwa Ibom State’s City, Uyo continues to thrive as an emerging pleasure tourism destination in the south south region due to its cultural, sports, and amusement facilities, a non-governmental organisation, De Messiah Elderly Home & Care Outreach, has introduced a special tourism product, “Ibom Senior Citizens Happy Hour Initiative” to accommodate the elderly in the tourism ecosystem.

Rising from its inaugural meeting in Uyo on Monday, Chairman of Akwa Ibom Tourism and Hospitality Practitioners’ Association (AKHTOPA) and President of De Messiah Elderly Home & Care Outreach, Amb. Usen Udoh said the Ibom Senior Citizens’ Happy Hour initiative is a new tourism product that take care of the needs of senior citizens within the age bracket of 60-65, meant to uphold the rights and dignity of seniors citizens through the provision of an age-friendly environment to maximize their potentials for self-fulfillment.

Amb. Udoh noted that Nigeria, being Africa’s leading economy and most populated country has the highest number of older people in the continent and also the 19th highest across the globe, with the population of Nigerians aged 65 and older projected to nearly triple by 2050.

The Managing Director/CEO of Legacy Tourism Development Services Limited Uyo, expressed concern that the increase in older Nigerians is occurring against the backdrop of extreme poverty, unsolved development problems, socioeconomic inequality, and a decline in the traditional care and support of older adults, adding that the absence of an operational national aging policy or safety net services and programmes at the state levels poses a unique challenge to older Nigerians and their families expecially in rural communities.

He said De Messiah Elderly Home and Care Outreach programmes would focus on programmes that support the independence, pro bono legal services, productivity, health and well-being, including long-term care needs of people with disabilities, older adults, and people with mental and substance use disorders.

He noted that though the senior citizens who are often influenced by the push factor to seek knowledge outside their immediate environment which reflects their eagerness to gain more knowledge about culture and history of new destinations has been the dominating psychological motivator among senior citizens.

“Given these factors, the increasing proportion of older Nigerians presents challenges to the older adults themselves, their families and communities, and Nigeria at large.

“Scholars have also emphasized the negligent attitude of state and local governments on the care and support of older adults, especially regarding the absence of a state policies on the welfare of older Nigerians and the urgent need for such policy formulation and enactment”, Amb. Udoh lamented.

The pioneer chairman of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) in Akwa Ibom State, stressed that from his observation, the absence of such functional state policies on aging indicates the nation’s disregard for older people and their families, adding that, based on this policy gap, the states need to urgently domesticate the National Policy on aging, with a view to incorporating aging issues into diverse their developmental agendas, which would result in committing actual resources to aging issues.

He further noted that such state ageing policies must reflect the fact that older people, like persons of other age groups, have a central place in Nigeria’s population.

It will be recalled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in a meeting presided over by former President Muhammadu Buhari approved the national policy on ageing on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

The objective of the national policy on ageing was to have a society where senior citizens are guaranteed security, independence, participation, comprehensive care, self-fulfillment, and dignity.

The Executive Committee of De Messiah Elderly Home and Care Outreach is made of Amb. Usen Udoh, President, Dr. Eyo Ekong, Executive Director, Research and Documentation, Dr. Mrs. Uduak Ocheche, Executive Director, Medical Services, Prince Willy Ibiok, Executive Director, Finance & Administration, Mrs. Idorenyin Udoh, Executive Director, Training, Evaluation & Monitoring, Dr. Piriye Kiyaramo, Executive Director, Corporate Relations & Advocacy, Ruth Fabian, Director of Programmes, Miss Mmakan Albert Isonguyo, Director of Welfare and Blessing Udoh Esq, Legal Adviser.

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