Government hosts senior citizens to luncheon - To mark Republic Day
The annual Senior Citizens Day luncheon was held yesterday afternoon at the foyer of the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), with a cross-section of the society in attendance
by sumptuous highlife tunes by the Police Band and the legendary Pat Thomas, the senior citizens, of whom were gorgeously dressed in kente fabric, smock and other Ghanaian attires, danced, cheered and interacted as they made merry, wined and dined.
The arrival of the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his spouse spiced up the event when Dr Bawumia moved the tables to shake hands and heartily interact with the senior citizens.
He requested that a minute’s silence observed in memory of the former Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, who passed on last Friday.
Government officials present included the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, and the Minister of Gender and Social Protection, Ms Otiko Afisa Djaba.
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Also in attendance were members of the Council of State, traditional rulers, the clergy and retirees from across the divide.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Bawumia called on all Ghanaians to shed their political, ethnic and religious differences and complement government’s effort at building the country, to make it a force to reckon with on the African continent.
“ We must cherish the peace that we enjoy in Ghana and continuously remind ourselves that we must work at it consciously to guard and protect the gains we have made. We should, therefore, be seen to be indivisible even in our differences,” Dr Bawumia stated.
“We would rely on you to help in the orientation of the entire nation, particularly the young ones, to the realisation that we are a nation with a common destiny,” he urged the senior citizens.
“The interest of the nation must override any other interests because if we fail as a country, we fail together and if we succeed, we do so together,” he pointed and reiterated the call on senior citizens to speak out and join the government to fight against the ills of society.
Dr Bawumia, who highlighted some interventions the government had made for the aged under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, described senior citizens as a significant group of citizens, who required specific and targeted attention to ensure the protection of their rights and wellbeing, so as to continually maintain their contribution to society.
To that end, he urged the ministry to enhance the implementation of the 2006 National Policy for Aged Persons, which Dr Bawumia indicated, gave guidelines for programming and actions to improve the life of elderly persons across the country.
“The plight of the aged is something that we must at all times seek to be concerned about and work tirelessly each day to help address. In this we will be able to augment government’s efforts and interventions towards the wellbeing of the aged,” he stressed.
On the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme, the Vice-President said it had provided transfer grants to about 259,853 aged persons of 65 years and above and in extremely poor households.
Dr Bawumia added that the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) as of the close of December last year, had also provided 502,301 aged persons of 70 years and above, with active NHIS membership cards, while the LEAP programme also registered 82,189 elderly persons under the exempted category.
A former worker of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Madam Abena Agyakoma-Kwarteng, on behalf of the senior citizens, appealed to the government to set up pensioners units in every constituency across the country where issues affecting pensioners would be addressed.
That, she said, was because the current practice which compelled pensioners to trek long distances from their homes to gather at specific points for validation was tedious.
Ghana joined the global community of nations 58 years ago on July 1, when it achieved a republican status, after the supreme rule of the country was transferred to the people of Ghana from the Queen of England.
The day, which is now observed as senior citizens day every year, marks the celebration of the contributions of older persons to nation-building.
It also presents the opportunity for the President and other government officials to interact with senior citizens and to express the nation’s appreciation to them for their long, dedicated and fruitful service to the country.
It is estimated that there are over 1.6 million senior citizens in the country.