BENIN CITY – Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has called for collective support for the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the dead in the society, saying that we must redefine ourselves as a caring society.
Governor Godwin Obaseki made the call while inaugurating the ultra-modern Elderly Care Centre built by a Non Governmental Organisation, DAGOMO Foundation Limited/GTE in Benin City, Thursday.
He said, “There are many of us in this audience who have the reach, who have the relationships to spread this message, to spread the word that we must redefine ourselves as a caring society, as a society that cares not for only those who are successful. If we do not begin today to invest for the future, invest for our old age, we will all be losers for it.”
He continued, “What we are witnessing today is excellently what defines the hallmark of a civilized society where, beyond looking at ourselves, our comfort and our accomplishments, we sit back to reflect on the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the dead. But suffice it to say that the lesson for us is that in the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, ‘people stop growing old when they stop pursuing their dreams’. We must continue to pursue our dreams even beyond when we are here.”
The Governor pledged to partner with Dagomo Foundation Limited on how to work out clear policies to support the weak in the society. He said, “And so, for us, Ifueko and the Government of Edo State, Dagomo Foundation is one foundation we will partner with. We will partner with you because we need to raise very clear policies on how to deal with the issues of the elderly and the disadvantaged in the society. We must have very well thought-out policies on how we deal particularly with the elderly because we, hopefully, will all grow old.”
Obaseki said he would partner with the foundation to plan out resting places for the dead. According to him, “We will also partner with you to deal with you on the disgraceful issue of our cemeteries and how we take care of our dead. In other parts of the world, cemeteries are laid out; they are so environmentally friendly to that extent that sometimes you say, I want to be laid there when I am no more. But I am not sure there are people in this city, in this state who want to be buried in our cemeteries, and we have converted our homes to cemeteries at the risk of our health. So, it’s one area we would like to work with the foundation, particularly in the three local government areas of Egor, Oredo and Ikpoba Okha that easily have a population that has exceeded a million people. We need to decide how to plan out resting places.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Dagomo Foundation Limited/GTE, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru thanked the Governor for honouring their invitation. “Permit me to specially thank our dear Governor, His Eexcellency Godwin Obaseki and his team for gracing this occasion and launching this building dedicated to our mother.”
She said, “Dagomo is a family based non-governmental organization established in 2008 in honor of our parents – Daniel and Grace Omoigui (from where the name is derived). It became operational in 2013.”
Mrs. Omoigui Okauru spoke on the focus, vision and mission of the foundation saying, “Our vision is to be a bridge in society, connecting the disadvantaged, unheard and unrecognized with opportunities for a more fulfilling life; and our mission is to make every day worth living for humanity.
“Our immediate focus is on the elderly and the dead. In this regard, our plan is to nurture a better and more caring environment for the elderly and the dead in the Nigerian society, starting with the Edo community, Benin City, and lay the seeds for an elderly care services industry in Nigeria. We won’t plan to do this ourselves, but to work with partners, and be a catalyst for change.”
According to the Executive Director, “Our immediate goal is to make aging a more enjoyable and dignified experience for at least 1 million people.”
She said their initiatives include, “initiating and ensuring the deployment of effective policy and legal instruments for the elderly, at both State and Federal levels; making the aging members of our society fulfilled and integrated within their communities by demonstrating love, concern and care with medical missions like what we are holding today, visiting and caring for the elderly, supporting the development of elderly care outlets, etc.”.
The Executive Director, who said their foundation is supporting the Governor in his bid to create employment for the people also explained, “We believe in so doing that we are supporting Governor Obaseki in his area, of priority that he talked about, of creating jobs in Edo State, of providing jobs within the network to address youth unemployment as well as offering an additional source of employment for retired persons and for people scared of retirement or living on unfulfilled jobs so that we effectively leverage on the knowledge base of the aging population.”
The Parish Priest of St Paul’s Catholic Church, Airport Road, Benin City, Rev. Fr. Paul Enow had earlier offered a brief homily as well as blessing and dedication of the office accommodation of the foundation.
Highpoint was the cutting of the tape for the inauguration of the ultra-Modern elderly Care Centre by Governor Obaseki after which there was health enlightenment talk, medical checks, free eye test and dental checks among others.
The Governor was accompanied on the occasion by the Edo State Head of Service, Mrs. Gladys Idahor and the Chief Press Secretary to Edo State Governor, Mr John Mayaki.