By Chukwunyere Nwosu, Abuja
There is a growing concern regarding street trading in Abuja, and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Barrister Nyesom Wike, has declared a zero tolerance stance on this activity. This has had adverse repercussions on persons with disabilities who rely on street trading as a means of livelihood.
Speaking at a press conference organised by the National Commission for Persons with disabilities (NCPWD), Idris Yahaya, the Secretary of the Self-Reliance for Physically Challenged Traders Association of Nigeria, said that the group had promptly adhered to the order received from the FCT Minister to cease trading on the streets of Abuja. Subsequently, they found themselves idle at home, and also some of their members’ shops in Area 1 were demolished. Matters escalated when one of their members was arrested and taken to the SAS office. Despite these challenges, they refrained from protesting, to demonstrate their commitment as law-abiding citizens who hold their country’s unity and progress in high regard.
Yahaya noted “We support our families and cater for our needs through our businesses. We implore the government to understand our difficult situation and give us shops in the markets in Abuja as an alternative to continue with our businesses. We are not begging on the street, we are peace keeping and law abiding citizens who do lawful businesses within Berger junction and Bannex axis. We don’t want our people to resort to begging because of these challenges.”
According to Yahaya, the APC government has shown kindness to persons with disabilities, having established a commission for their benefit. The association bears no grudge against the government and sincerely wishes for the administration success.
“Our visit was necessitated by our current situation, which made us approached the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to inform them of our plights and appeal for potential solutions.
Mr. James Lalu, the Executive Secretary, NCPWD, while addressing the press on the developments as well as solutions to the lingering problems commended members of the association for organizing and mobilizing about 293 members who engage in legitimate and lawful businesses around the FCT to earn a living, for never using their disabilities to resort to begging and at the same time being law abiding citizens.
He assured them that their complaints about their business disruption would receive the highest priority in finding effective solutions within shortest time possible. In solving the problem, Mr Lalu said he will make sure that all alternative means to provide support for the group members to continue their business is presented it to the Minister of FCT.
Mr. Lalu mentioned that “when President Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumed office, he removed the subsidy, and despite appeals for palliative measures, it seemed that the disability community was not adequately considered in the distributions.”
He disclosed that the commission is in the process of collecting essential data, which will be presented to the Chairman of the National Economic Council, who is the Vice President of the federation.
“The disability community constitutes 15% of the federal republic of Nigeria’s population, estimated at 35 million across the 774 local government areas in the country. The commission requests that the federal government should pay due attention to PWDs’ needs in all its endeavours to ensure that persons with disabilities are inclusively accommodated.
“The Honourable Minister of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation has made it a commitment to ensure the total inclusion of persons with disabilities in the upcoming national conditional cash transfer program, set to launch nationwide. The ministry is diligently working to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in this program and future national social investment initiatives.”
Mr. Lalu also disclosed that the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, in partnership with the Bank of Industry, will initiate training for traders in the FCT, particularly those eligible for soft loans from the Bank of Industry. This training will ensure the proper registration of their businesses, confirming their legitimacy as business owners.
He urged the FCT Minister to consider the provision of shops and increased opportunities for persons with disabilities within the FCT. He said that the commission is willing to partner with the FCT to facilitate the provision of shops where they can conduct their businesses legitimately.
The Executive Secretary assures the group members that the government stands with them, recognizes them and will provide the necessary support for them to succeed. He also said that the commission will continue to provide the necessary support for their legitimate businesses and anticipates that the results of the commission’s engagement with the FCT administration will come out very soon.