BAYELSA WELFARE PROGRAMME FOR THE ELDERLY GULPS OVER N.7B ANNUALLY; SAYS DICKSON.
The Bayelsa State Government says it currently spends about 65 million naira every month to implement its welfare programme for the elderly in the state, who have attained 70 years and above.
Governor Seriake Dickson, who stated this during a chat with Government House correspondents in Yenagoa, justified the programme, noting that the beneficiaries belong to the vulnerable group in the society.
Reaffirming his administration’s commitment to improving the quality of life of the people, the governor assured that more empowerment policies, which are mainly economic in nature, would soon be rolled out to drive the human capacity building process.
Describing the elderly programme as novel in the history of the country, he observed that, more often than not, old people are neglected in government’s scheme of things.
The governor noted, “One of the sections of our population that had been ignored before now are old people. All of us, you will agree with me are praying to grow old. We have a situation where, because of economic realities, people have to migrate from the villages to the urban areas to look for greener pastures and most of our parents and relations that are old are just left in the communities. That is not good”.
“I am a welfarist and so, I believe government must be committed to the welfare of the individual, especially the most vulnerable in society. So, I thought that we should have a welfare programme, that should attend to these people. We are trying to do something for the women as well”
“This is just a precursor to a more robust programme of empowerment policy that will unfold. For the aged, who are 70 years and above, we presently pay them five thousand naira every month and our government spends sixty to sixty five million naira every month. That is a huge amount, because if you multiply sixty or sixty five million to the 12 months plus administrative cost, you find out that, we are spending about seven hundred and twenty million in a year.
He said that, the state government has also re-launched the Bayelsa Volunteers, a community based intelligence-gathering unit as part of its youth empowerment programme.
According to the governor, about one thousand youths would be recruited as initial intake to kick-start the programme.
“The volunteer programme that was unfolded less than a week ago, will start with one thousand youths and they will earn fifteen thousand naira monthly. They will be selected through a rigorous process, which will be community based. An orientation course will be organized for them and they will have to stay in their communities”.
“If they perform well and have good conduct and work with all leaders respectfully, then we will be encouraged to increase the number. So, you can see that this government is committed to welfare, but it must follow due process” he said.