Home Disability News PWDs Seek Inclusion in Labour/FG Negotiations on Palliative Measures

PWDs Seek Inclusion in Labour/FG Negotiations on Palliative Measures

by Inclusive News Network

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Nigeria have called for inclusion of members in the ongoing series of engagements with stakeholders on the provision of post-subsidy palliatives to Nigerians.

The PWDs claimed that if the palliatives were not managed properly, they expressed the fear of a lack of access to the packages.

At a news conference on the effects of fuel subsidy removal on Nigerians organized by Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE) Forum on Monday in Abuja, the PWDs requested the inclusion of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Labour/Government negotiations in palliative measures.

According to them, with the removal of fuel subsidy, the cost of living has increased and for persons with disabilities, the cost is double.

“The government has been engaging with various stakeholders on palliatives but nobody has met with us and in our space, we have a saying that anything about us, without us, is not for us”, the Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), Grace Jerry, said.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Accelerate Disability Inclusion in Emergencies (ADIE), Christian Agbo, noted that the fuel subsidy removal has brought untold socio-economic hardship to Nigerians, especially marginalized groups like persons with disabilities, women and youths.

He said: “These groups of citizens represent more than 80 percent of our country’s 216 million estimated population. The fuel subsidy removal has had a rapid multiplier effect on the cost of goods and services.

“Most Nigerians, especially PWDs have been deeply affected by the increase in transportation, food items, healthcare and other essential goods and services.

“The pains being experienced by Nigerians as a result of the fuel subsidy removal and other policies like the floating of the Naira cannot be overemphasized.

“The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for June 2023 revealed that on a year to year basis, Nigeria’s headline inflation rose from 18.60 percent in June 2022 to 22.79 percent in June 2023. This is likely to be much higher in the coming months.

“The cost of fueling a 70 liter bus rose from N11,550 to N43,190 following the fuel subsidy removal. Consequently, the cost of transportation has gone up by about 350 percent.

“For example, the cost of a bus ride from Kubwa to Wuse market in Abuja rose from N200 per trip to N700 between April and June. For food items, a mudu of white garri rose from N300 to N500. A basket of sweet potatoes rose from N800 to N1,500.

“While ADIE Forum understands the federal government’s fuel subsidy removal policy, it is regrettable that it was done without broad consultations and accompanying plans to mitigate the difficult implications it is having on Nigerians.

“We have also observed that there hasn’t been much progress with the joint federal government and labor negotiations as many sub-committees have simply not been inaugurated in the last two months.”

On his part, a member of ADIE Forum, Jake Epelle, who spoke on the way forward, noted that Section 26 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, enjoins stakeholders to prioritize the needs of PWDs in policy actions, including when determining reliefs targeted at citizens.

He said: “We recommend that: the representatives of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities OPDs and Civil Society Organizations CSOs be made members of the joint federal government and labour negotiating committee on fuel subsidy removal and incorporated into the planning, implementation, and monitoring of economic initiatives, especially those setup to manage savings from the fuel subsidy removal policy.

“The federal, state, and local governments should introduce an affordable public transportation system that is accessible to Persons with Disabilities PWDs beginning in September 2023.

“This programme should provide discounted or free transportation vouchers, passes, or dedicated transportation services to ensure affordable and accessible transportation options for PWDs.

“Accessible transportation should include buses with adjustable ramps and handrails for wheelchair users, signage and electronic display for directions with audio announcements for the benefit of the deaf and the blind.

“The federal and state governments should initiate a stand-alone social protection intervention for persons with disabilities PWDs, including establishing reliable databases of PWDs, food banks for an equitable distribution of economic palliatives to PWDs, and targeted financial assistance.

“There is no clarity on how marginalized groups like PWDs will be accommodated in the economic palliatives recently announced by the federal and state governments. This recommendation will address that.

“The federal government should reverse the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 5 percent by September 2023 and halt further increases in existing taxes, tariffs, and duties, as well as the introduction of new ones for the next one year to increase the purchasing power of Nigerians, especially PWDs.

“Government should conduct awareness campaigns to educate the public about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities, emphasizing the importance of inclusive transportation and the adverse effects of the fuel subsidy removal on the community of persons with disabilities.

“These programmes should promote empathy, respect, and understanding to curb discrimination and foster an inclusive society.”

“The federal government should ensure the full implementation of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, particularly the 5 percent employment quota for PWDs and incentivize private and public sector employers to implement workforce inclusion initiatives for persons with disabilities like work-from-home options, flexible schedules, accessible workplaces etc,”Epelle added.

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