The Board of Trustees of the Gerontology Association of Nigeria (GERAN) led by its Chairman, Ambassador Usman Sarki, last Wednesday, paid a courtesy call on the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR to intimate him of the aims and objectives of GERAN.
Receiving the delegation on behalf of the Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretary, (DES), Malam Ibrahim Dan ‘Iya congratulated the group for establishing the Association and for their continued efforts at advancing the frontiers of Gerontology in the country. He observed that considering the importance of the group, the Executive Secretary would have loved to receive the group but had travelled out of the country. The DES recalled that he had been part of the Gerontology group at some point. He advised the group to take advantage of the fact that GERAN was a young Association to rally round, get the GERAN fully registered and monitor practitioners of the programmes across the country.
The Deputy Executive Secretary said that the Commission was desirous of sensitising the public on the need to promote Gerontology in the Nigerian University System (NUS) hence the invitation and engagement of Dr. Emen Omokaro as a consultant and as a visiting scholar in the NUC to pilot the project in 2010. He stated that these efforts led to the development of a Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) for the programme which is now being taught at the post graduate level. He assured the group that the Commission would continue to promote the project as it was very important to have a deliberate policy in place to cater for the elderly and the aged.
Malam Dan’Iya informed the group that the Commission would consider inviting the group and stakeholders as well as professional bodies to meetings of the NUC where discussions on curriculum reviews and development would be held in view of its importance in the country. He informed the group that the Commission engages major stakeholders to critically review the Curriculum, adding that the Commission would be reaching out to the group whenever the need arose. He also advised the group to create synergy and collaborations in geriatrics and gerontology in Nigeria.
The Deputy Executive Secretary gave the historical background of the NUC which started as an administrative unit in the Cabinet office regulating only five universities in 1962 and to a statutory body in 1974.The Commission now manages 153 universities, comprising 40 Federal, 44 States and 68 private universities.
He informed the group that the Commission currently has 12 departments including Six technical and six servicing departments to respond to the growing number of universities in the country, reiterating that the Commission was the only regulatory agency responsible for setting of minimum academic standards and monitoring other activities of the universities to ensure quality of Nigerian graduates that can compete favourably with other graduates globally.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the delegation, Ambassador Sarki appreciated the Commission for nurturing the Gerontology programme in the NUS. The Ambassador said that the visit was to among other things appreciate the Commission for its roles in midwifing the programme. He said that the aims and objectives of GERAN included the promotion of healthy ageing and improving the quality of life of older persons; to effectively advocate for inclusive development for the benefit of all ages; to encourage collaborative inter-disciplinary and inter-sectoral research and its application; and to build human capacity in all facets of ageing through seminars, workshops, conferences and scientific publications.
The Chairman said that the visit was also to discuss the proposed launching of GERAN and its international conference for which participants would be drawn from the academia, government, private sector, civil society organisations and the older persons. He reiterated that the Board was made up of men and women of proven integrity who have distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and career.
Ambassador Sarki said that ageing is a natural and compulsory occurrence which every human must undergo, hence the need to deliberately prepare for it. He said that the preparation for ageing should start immediately. Amb. Sarki said that GERAN was ready to join hands with the Commission in building a healthy history for the elderly. He observed that one of the articles of the United Nations had provided for the care of the elderly in view of the significant contributions they had made to the society
In her remarks, the Executive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation (DOF) Dr. Emem Omokaro stated that the choice of NUC as the first point of call by the group was in recognition of the pioneering role the Commission played in introducing Gerontology programme in the entire Nigerian University System (NUS).
In their separate comments, the Directors, Accreditation, Dr. Biodun Noel Saliu and Liaison Services and International Corporation, Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi commended Dr Omokaro for the determination and courage to actualize the dream from her Doctoral Theses and lend their support and that of their colleagues in advancing the course of the GERAN as well as recognised the calibre of personalities that form the Board of trustees.