On Thursday, February 6, 2020, social media was awash with the news about the appointment of a 118-year old woman as special adviser on elderly matters to the vice-chairman of Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government of Bayelsa State, Mr Brian Wotari Alagha.
The oldest woman in Sabagreia community, Ma Dani Omonigbalibo Orogono says that she will be doing her job from her home in Sabagreia.
Ma Orogono who spoke in her native Ijaw dialect when Daily Trust Saturday visited her residence at Sabagreia community, said everything given to her for elderly people will surely get to them.
While promising to give elderly women good advice that will help alleviate their plights, Ma Dani said: “I thank God that I’m alive to see this day, for other elders, I pray for them to get to my age. God should protect them and provide everything they need.
“I also pray for the politicians including the one that gave me the appointment, that God protect them, so that they will be in unity and get the wisdom to move Bayelsa state forward.” She said.
Some neighbours in the community told Daily Trust Saturday that Ma Orogono, though not an active politician during her early days, she was an active women leader in her younger years. She is the oldest person in the community who has the experience to advise the leaders on how to handle issues concerning elderly people as people, especially women still come to her for advise and counselling.
However, Ma Orogono’s last daughter, Sarah Iko, who is over 50 years, disclosed that her mother’s actual age is 130 years, not 118 years as speculated in the media.
“Mama will be using her home as her office because at this age, mama cannot stand the stress of going to the local government headquarters in Kaiama.
“It was God that did it for us, myself, I am mama’s last child and I’m about fifty years plus, people have been calling us suffering people but God still remembered us through mama. I give glory to God.
“She gave birth to thirteen of us with my father. She didn’t marry another man. The Vice-Chairman that gave her the appointment is her brother’s son. He has also promised to build new a house here for us.
Meanwhile, the vice chairman, Mr Brian Alagha, has denied media reports that he appointed an 118 year old elderly woman as his special adviser. In a statement by an aide to the council vice chairman, Mr Woyeingidipamo Victor, in Yenagoa, he said the vice-chairman never appointed Ma Dani Orogono as his special adviser, but included her in his empowerment scheme with a monthly stipend, which he uses in supporting the aged in the council.
Part of the statement read, “We will like to state clearly that Ma Orogono was not appointed, but was included as a beneficiary of the scheme which is part of the Vice Chairman’s programme to cater for the elderly and in line with the Ijaw traditions of giving honour to the oldest person in a community.
“Secondly, the letter that is in circulation was not duly signed by the Vice-Chairman, who ought to sign such an appointment letter. The old woman in question can barely walk or talk and her inclusion was to enable her benefit from the monthly stipends.
“Furthermore, this is not the first time the person of the Vice-Chairman has reached out to the elderly, widows, youths and children of the council as there are periodical engagements in terms of empowerment programmes for women and widows where they are encouraged to go into small and medium scale businesses.
“Finally, we will like to let everyone know that there are several beneficiaries of the special scheme for the elderly and that everyone deserves equal opportunity no matter the age as this is the problem with our society when it concerns the old. They deserve love, respect and honour.”