that requires restraint to prevent its benefits from weakening the motivation for family and community care of older persons. It is often perceived, rightly or wrongly, that the industrial model of social security has contributed to the demise of family support and networks in economically developed nations and a major social and government objective of Nigeria is to avoid this from happening in its society.
It is assumed that a shoring up of the traditional means of support would not encompass some of the elements of prior customs, such as the economic subordination of women and young men that assured their dependence on male elders ( Rwezaura, 1989). Rather, a government goal of using policies and programs to strengthen customary methods of support involves steps to improve equity among the generations through participation in the decisionmaking process. A tactical approach under consideration is to assist communities and regions in establishing local organizations that will allow for increased representation of the views and of the elderly themselves with regard to their needs and ways of addressing them. Significantly, locally based organizations would also permit an improved method of data gathering and administration of programs oriented to local needs.
There is great interest in other African nations with a growing number of at-risk elderly in policies and programs that win strengthen the role of the family and community (African Conference on Gerontology, 1984; Omari, 1987; Zimbabwe Action Plan on the Elderly, 1986; Woodman, 1986). Whether the government will intervene to bolster traditional support systems for the elderly in Nigeria remains to be seen.