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Nation Forgotten

Omoregie Osakpolor | Nigeria

Alphonsus Anyebe (63 years) retired from the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 2011. More than 7 years after retirement, the Benue State Government has not paid his gratuity and sixteen months of monthly pension allowance. Benue, 2019.

Nation Forgotten is an ongoing multimedia documentary project that tells the story of the neglect of Nigeria’s senior citizens left to fend for themselves by the government. It looks at the negative impacts of corruption including low productivity of the public service and the youths’ reluctance to seek employment within that sector. This project is inspired by Omoregie’s father who retired from public service in 2007. And up till now has only received about 70% of his gratuity. And between 2011 and 2013 he was not in receipt of his monthly allowance of N32, 000 Nigerian Naira (about $89). 

The aspiration of every worker is to retire with the hope that he/ she would be remunerated by the government during their old age. But for most Nigerian retirees this ‘dream’ has become a forlorn hope that may never materialize.

The British colonial government set up the public sector pensions scheme in 1951 aimed at giving the retirees a meaningful life in their old age. But since independence (1960) consecutive governments (both military and civilian) have continuously misappropriated public funds that have been earmarked for old age pensioners (OAPs). The endemic corruption and arrogant embezzlement of funds by politicians have ensured that pensioners in Africa’s biggest economy would be short-changed for the foreseeable future.

Nation Forgotten is an ongoing multimedia documentary project that tells the story of the neglect of Nigeria’s senior citizens left to fend for themselves by the government. It looks at the negative impacts of corruption including low productivity of the public service and the youths’ reluctance to seek employment within that sector. This project is inspired by my father who retired from public service in 2007. And up till now has only received about 70% of his gratuity. And between 2011 and 2013 he was not in receipt of his monthly allowance of N32, 000 Nigerian Naira (about $89). 

The fight against corruption by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari  cannot be won by the prosecution of past corrupt leaders alone, but by the creation of a system (or society) that ensures the welfare of its citizens is paramount. A state where everyone irrespective of their ethnic background, religion, gender, sexuality and age feels a sense of belonging and pride to be Nigerian.

The images and videos were shot in late evening and early morning in low light to symbolize Old Age and the Pensioners who are in the twilight of their lives. The intimacy of the portraits becomes more pronounced because of the subjects’ (pensioners) familiarity with his environment.

EMAIL ADRRESS: omoregieosakpolor46@gmail.com

WEBSITE: www.omoregieosakpolor.me

INSTAGRAM: @omoregie100

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