Governor of Ekiti State, Biodun Oyebanji, at the weekend, assured elderly citizens in the state that his government will continue to accord them the deserved respect and initiate programmes that will transform their lives and make their old age more comfortable.
Oyebanji disclosed that the payment of gratuities and pension, introduction of emergency programmes in all medical facilities and reintroduction of social security scheme for the elderly were conceptualised to reduce the elders’ stress, sufferings and neglect in governance.
Oyebanji said this in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, during an engagement with elderly persons at the Adetiloye Hall, as part of the activities marking the first anniversary of his administration.
At the event, attended by the First Lady, Dr. Olayemi Oyebanji, a gynecologist, Dr. Bolade Ojo, took the elders through health tips and ways they could prevent and overcome some of the health challenges associated with old age.
Oyebanji, represented by his deputy, Chief (Mrs.) Monisade Afuye, said his plan and focus, upon assumption of office, was to create a state where all the strata of the society, regardless of age, religion, ethnicity and political leanings would enjoy the dividends of democracy.
The governor saluted the elders for deploying their youthful vitality of the past to serve the state and fight for its creation, saying his government would continually treat them with respect.
“What I want is a state where everyone, regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity, will live happily and thrive. We made payment of pensions our priority and also defrayed some outstanding gratuities of retirees at the state and local government levels.
“On healthcare, the government established Emergency Operations Centres across all the local government areas to improve response to health emergencies.
“We also expanded the ‘Ulera Wa’ Health Insurance Intervention from five local governments to 10. Also, as part of the rural development plan, 43.4 kilometres of farm roads have been constructed across some local governments.
“I assure you that this government will continue to do its best to ensure the welfare of our senior citizens.
“I am immensely grateful to Ekiti elders for your support, guidance and prayers. Especially, I thank the Ekiti Council of Elders for their commitment and contributions to Ekiti development,” the governor said.
In his response, the chairman of the Ekiti Council of Elders, Professor Joseph Oluwasanmi, said the sudden removal of fuel subsidy really had a toll on the elders, a development he said made it imperative for government to design policies that would cushion the effect on this category of the Nigerian population.
Oluwasanmi, a professor of Medicine and Surgery, saluted Oyebanji for his “scintillating achievements” in one year in office, particularly for being committed to factoring all the citizens into his policies.
“We will continue to support and pray for the success of your administration. We have seen how you have been working hard to make Ekiti great. We are proud of your modest achievements,” he said.