Groups of people with disability (PWD) in Kaduna have raised alarm over the delay in disbursement of the Agro-Processing, Productivity Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement Support (APPEALS)’s grant months after 100 of them were trained in diverse agric enterprises in 2021.
They were concerned that delay was peculiar only to the implementers of the project in Kaduna State as they claimed that their colleagues in the five other implementing states which are Enugu, Cross River, Kogi, Kano, and Lagos states have been settled and are already advancing in their chosen enterprises.
100 of 1,715 small and medium scale farmers who are benefiting from the Agro-Processing, APPEALS’s training and grant in Kaduna State are people with disability and special needs, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, APPEALS, Abdulwasiu Olayinka Fawole told journalists in November 2021.
APPEALS is a six-year project developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the World Bank and other stakeholders in line with the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) 2016-2020 of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
One of the PWD, Rilwan Muhammed Abdullahi told this correspondent that he has done all that was required to get the grant after he was trained in the poultry auxiliary around October 2021 but he was yet to be contacted.
“I am one of the beneficiaries of APPEALS. We were trained around October 2021. After the training, we were issued forms by APPEALS to select areas of enterprise which we did. APPEALS facilitated our registration at CAC after which we were asked to open accounts with Zenith bank.
“They told us later that our accounts were having issues so I contacted the bank and I was told APPEALS was yet to submit our CAC certificate. I then contacted APPEALS and they promised to resubmit the certificate to Zenith bank. Since then, I’m yet to hear from both the bank and the APPEALS”, he said.
Another beneficiary, Ishiaku Musa Maji who was trained in poultry expressed fear over the delay saying “APPEALS is in six states including Enugu, Lagos, Cross River, Kogi, Kaduna, and Kano and I have heard reliably that people with disability in these states have been settled.
“So, the concern is what is stopping Kaduna APPEALS from settling PWD? If it is about population, Kano has more population thank Kaduna and our members there have been settled”.
Acting Chairman, Blind Association of Nigeria (BAN) Kaduna State chapter, Ibrahim Abubakar decried that “since offering our training last year around September, we don’t know what is going on. We have not heard anything from APPEALS about our status and we are worried”.
Executive Director, Women with Disability Self Reliance Foundation, Riskat Toyin Muhammed said “it is so surprising and very painful when you look at how APPEALS project is being handled when it comes to PWD. This is a project that has a timeline. It is almost a year now after PWD were trained and they have not been given anything.
“APPEALS has been telling us that our registrations are having problems. When our people went to the bank, they were told there were no problems with their accounts. Already, we are eight months gone into 2022 and almost a year after the training.
“So as we speak, none of about 100 PWD that were trained has received any alert or know their status. Unfortunately, the people handling it would be calling PWD to threaten them to stop complaining because the project is a privilege and not a right.
“We are pleading with the governor to intervene. We want an internal investigation. What is happening with our funds is a social protection project under the state government – designed to reduce poverty, discrimination, and marginalization. Kano, Kogi, and Lagos trained PWD settled a few months after. So, if other implementing states can do it, what is the issue with Kaduna State?” She queried.
On his part, Chairman, Joint National Association PWD in Kaduna, and one of the prospective beneficiaries in the APPEALS project, Suleiman Abdulazeez said “our colleagues in other states have been doing their businesses because the grant has been made available to them.
“We have made necessary appeals to APPEALS and they have been telling us it is in the pipeline. What pipeline because our colleagues in other states have collected their grant”, he said.
On his part, Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Disability Affairs Board, Aliyu Haruna Yakassai said, he has replicated the concerns raised by PWD at the higher level and awaits a cheering response.
“The PWD complained to us that virtually all their colleagues in other states under this project have benefited. In one of our meetings where I was privileged to represent the Ministry of Human Services and Social Development, I raised the issue after a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture told that meeting that they have concluded disbursing the grants to all the beneficiaries and that they are now monitoring implementation.
“So, the Chairman of the State Committee on Social Protection, Mrs. Saude Amina Atoyebi asked the man from the agriculture ministry to find out and get back to her. Up till now, I’ve not received and briefing from the Ministry of Agriculture. I also complained to the desk Officer at the APPEALS office here in Kaduna that my people are yet to receive their grant and he promised that they were almost at the final stage of the process. That is the latest as far as this issue is concerned”, he said.