By Emmanuel Ukoh
The Nigerian Government has pledged to be disability sensitive in supporting and providing a conducive environment towards promoting the participation of Persons with Disabilities in governance.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq said this at a press conference to mark the 2022 international Day of Persons with Disabilities, in Abuja, Nigeria.
The Minister said a disability inclusive policy is necessary to enable them live fulfilled lives and make meaningful contributions to societal growth and development as well as for the realization of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
“It is only when people are empowered, involved and included that they can better be prepared to take advantage of opportunities: they become agents of change and are more available to embrace their civic responsibilities.
“It is pertinent to note that following Mr. President’s assent to the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, a lot has changed regarding issues of disability in the country. These have helped in no small measure in promoting the participation of Persons with Disabilities in all aspects of life and aspiration to leadership and decision making positions.
“It is worthy of note equally that a lot of states have followed suit to domesticate the Act into laws in their various states. Recently, Abia, Edo and Kano States passed their own laws”.
The Minister, however, emphasised that a lot still needs to be done towards the effective implementation of the provisions of the Act, especially in the areas of accessibility, advocacy and sensitization among others.
She further stated that government alone cannot achieve these, hence the collaboration with various stakeholders and partners.
“The annual observance of the day aims at promoting an understanding of disability issues and mobilizing supports for the dignity, rights and well-being of Persons with Disabilities, as well as serving as a wake-up call to all stakeholders on the needs of Persons with Disabilities, in order to intensify efforts towards improving their situations.
“The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWDs) is ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible world’. This year’s commemoration globally is being centred on the overarching theme of innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development, in line with the theme of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly”.
Allot more slots to the disabled
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, James Lalu commended the Nigerian Government for the 10% inclusion of Persons With Disabilities in the National Social Investment Programme.
He, however noted that there’s need for more slots to be allocated to the disability community to alleviate their pains.
“We’ve never had it so good. As I speak to you, over 300,000 Persons With Disabilities are benefiting from the Programme. We’re still counting at the moment because they request for more names and we’re working harder to make provision for the disability community.
“Today, we have over 161 Persons With Disabilities that secured employment in different agencies and parastatals. It’s a wonderful effort by the Government.
“We’re not were we use to be, yet we’ve not arrived where we ought to be. Changes have happened and the disability commission is saying this is the Government that has given us life. This is the Government that has given us hope and stirred our aspirations as a community and we’ll do everything to stand with this Government for the maximum support we’ll continue to enjoy.”
Effective implementation of the Disability Act
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo pledged the continuous support of the Ministry at ensuring the effective implementation of the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Act in 2019, after almost 18 years of long struggle.
“The Act provides for the full integration of Persons with Disabilities into the society and creation of National Commission for Perons with Disabilities that will be vested with the responsibilities for the education, health, social, economic and civil rights of PWDs”.
According to him, the day is proclaimed in order to celebrate Persons with Disabilities worldwide, awaken the consciousness of Member States to encourage and promote activities that supports Persons with Disabilities.
The theme for this year’s celebration is: Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible world.