Country report: ageing in Nigeria – current state, social and economic implications

Country report: ageing in Nigeria – current state, social and economic implications

Nigeria is yet to enact a National Policy on the care and welfare of older persons. Since March 2003 it has remained in draft form.

In the coming years, the ageing population in Nigeria is expected to increase in numbers and life expectancy rates will gradually increase with significant social and economic implications to the individuals and the Nigerian government. The old-age dependency ratio is not high at present (at least compared with the developed nations) – but it will increase in the coming years. This serves as pointer to problems to come.

The paper highlights the following areas at:

  • changes in family structure in Nigeria: care of older relatives is a value which is culturally rooted and highly respected, but there is an observable progressive shift in function away from the traditional family,  due to economic problems, migration and influence by foreign culture
  • care provision for older people in Nigeria: the Nigerian government and political leaders believe that the provision of care is the responsibility of families. Policy emphasis is more on young people, women and children
  • social policy and old age: the Contributory Pension Scheme (insurance) that has been reformed does not cover many older persons, and is mainly designed for those who work(ed) in the formal sector, has yet to make appreciable impact on the lives of older people
  • elder abuse and neglect: there is yet no law on elder abuse. Creation of awareness of abuse as a public health and social issue has been intensified since the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day took place in most major cities in Nigeria in 2006
The author concludes that:
  • at the moment there is no Social Security Scheme policy in old age. The Contributory Pension Scheme with 7.5% contributions paid by the employer and another 7.5% by the employee affect only those in the formal sector
  • artisans, farmers, fishermen, commercial drivers, etc are not included in any organised scheme of social security in old age except those with individual investments in form of shares, stocks, bonds
  • there is need for tax-relief in respect of maintenance of close relatives such as widowed mothers, or mothers-in-law or relatives incapacitated by old age or infirmity
  • to achieve the target of halving poverty by the year 2015 according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and improving the living condition of older persons in Nigeria there is the need for an urgent redirection and refocus on the issues of ageing in Nigeria and the sub-Saharan region of Africa