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The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth, has urged he tNigerian government to create a non-contributory social pension scheme to take care of the elderly in the country.

The DVC said this in a paper she delivered at the annual lecture of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ado-Ekiti, on Tuesday.

Speaking in the lecture entitled, 'Conspiracy of silence or a case of costly assumptions: Welfare of the elderly in Nigeria,' Togonu-Bickersteth said that urgent action needed to be taken to restore the dignity of many elderly ones who had been turned to street beggars due to the harsh economic situation in the country.

According to her, the contributory pension scheme takes care of only those who spent their active years in the formal sector while the majority of the elderly ones are not eligible for it because they spent their productive years outside the formal sector.

She added that the non-contributory social pension for the elderly became imperative because many of the children depended on by their aged parents were either unemployed or underemployed.

This situation, coupled with the economic recession, the don said, had worsened the rate of poverty and homelessness among the elderly people.

She said, 'It is essential that some form of universal or targeted non-contributory social pension be constituted to take care of the poor elderly.

'Nigeria can borrow from the achievement of other countries like South Africa, Brazil, Botswana and India who have successfully instituted such schemes.

' For example, Botswana's universal old age pension covers five per cent of its 65+ elders, paying them $24 per month. Brazil rural old age pension covers over six million beneficiaries to whom it pays $87 per month.'