By Ibrahim Tukur
Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) otherwise known as “differently-abled individuals”, encounter numerous challenges that consign them to acute socio-economic underdevelopment.
Their disabilities often leave them struggling to survive. And those with profound challenges like blindness, spinal cord injury, leprosy, and cerebral palsy often resort to financial dependency to survive. As a result, street begging, considered taboo in some societies, is rampant among these disadvantaged persons – no thanks to a lack of government and societal support towards their welfare.
Apart from persons with hearing loss, majority of PWDs depend on begging to survive as they often are not physically fit to do hard work. More worrisome is the fact that there are many PWD men with families out there who struggle to make ends meet.
Pathetically, some of these do go to big cities where people are more charitable to do begging and return home as soon as they are financially well-off.
In cities like Lagos and Abuja where many Persons with Disability make substantial income ban on street begging has been imposed. Thus, the sources of livelihood of these people are adversely affected. Although street begging is a condemnable offence, the imposition of ban without proffering practical solutions to the problem is rather unfair, and almost cruel.
Although this lingering problem can be resolved by establishing Social Security measures like Disability Benefits, the needs of Persons with Disability can not be totally satisfied – no thanks to our feeble economy.
As a way forward, this writer believes Persons with Disabilities need education and skills to become financially, economically and intellectually independent.
Disability is no longer a barrier to education since inception of special education in Nigeria in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The government, at all levels should do everything possible to make education accessible for all persons with disability. Special schools should be constructed and well-equipped with special equipment and materials.
Parents with children with disabilities should do the needful by sending them to school where they will acquire sound knowledge that will enable them turn their disabilities into abilities.
In summary, education is compulsory for all persons with disabilities. When persons with disabilities are educated, life becomes easier for them. They will no longer have to roam the streets begging and even the unemployed among them can start their own business and make good money.
Ibrahim Tukur is a 400 level student at Bayero University Kano. He is a disability rights advocate and proponent of education of the Deaf child.