Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, has called for collective support for the elderly, the weak, the disadvantaged and the dead in the society, saying that we must redefine our culture and value system as a caring society.
Governor Obaseki made this call while inaugurating the ultra-modern Elderly Care Centre built by Dagomo Foundation Limited in Benin City, built by Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru.
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.’’
While he noted that as a people and as a society that care, not for only those who are successful, added that, “if we do not begin today to invest for the future, invest for our old age, we will all be losers for it.”
According to him, “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.’’
Governor Obaseki, in his counsel, quoted Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who said “ 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, who extolled the beautiful and laudable gesture, pledged to partner Dagomo Foundation Limited on how to work out clear policies to support the weak in the society.
He said, “for us 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 also hinted that the state government would partner the foundation on the creation of a befitting resting places for the dead.
According to him, “We will also partner with you to deal with 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,” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Dagomo Foundation Limited, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, thanked the Governor for honoring their invitation to attend the inauguration of the building dedicated to their other.
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 but 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.
“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,” she said.
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”.