The captivating news coming from the newly established National Commission of Persons with Disability is that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is going to empower 50,000 persons with disabilities through its Conditional Cash Transfer with a view of mitigating their untold plight very soon, more especially in this COVID-19 pandemic. The newly appointed Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr. James Lalu, stated this on Monday, July 5, 2021, at a press conference in Abuja. The officials of the commission are said to be going round the 36 states of the federation to collect necessary information and bank account numbers of the PWDs.
In fact, PMB’s all-inclusive government should be commended for this empathetic concern for PWDs, more especially in this pitiable situation in which COVID-19 pandemic added salt into the wound of their untold hardship as 98 percent of them are struggling for hand-to-mouth existence.
I feel obliged to remind PMB and the entire state governments that there are millions of PWDs in Nigeria, especially young women and children that deserve more attention, support economic empowerment as they are suffering from discrimination, stigma, hatred, lack of access to basic necessities of life, abandonment, sexual assaults and other challenges. Some of them are entirely fed up with their lives because of the negative attitude of society towards them.
According to the WHO’s World Disability Report of 2011, approximately 15 percent of Nigeria’s population or at least 25 million people are living with disability. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs Disability (UN DESA) has also pointed out that girls and women of all ages with any form of disability are generally among the more vulnerable and marginalised of society.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has also set out a wide range of rights that address all aspects of life such as education, employment, health, political participation, leisure and sports, public life, recreation and participation in cultural life. The CRPD works towards ensuring the full and equal employment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by all PWDs and promotes respect for their inherent dignity.
PMB was commended in Nigeria and around the world for signing the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, into law on January 23, 2019, which was lingered in the National Assembly for more than 18 years and declined to be signed into law by his predecessors since the return of multi-party democratic governance in 1999. The assent of the bill by PMB shows that he is the log-awaited patriotic, inclusive, empathetic and considerate leader that Nigeria deserves.
Additionally, on July 7, 2021, when receiving members of the newly established National Commission for PWDs, PMB said to them, “I am enjoining you as a team of the commission, to realize that your work forms a critical aspect in achieving the objective of our administration to removing 100 million Nigerians out of poverty. I am therefore looking forward to commissioning projects and programmes of high impact on the disabled community in line with this vision”. He finally said, “I thank the Governors of Plateau, Lagos, and Nasarawa States for enacting disability laws and establishing Disability Rights Commissions in their states, I am calling on Governors of Yobe, Kano and the Kogi states, to implement their laws while those states that are yet to do so should take necessary action to enable federal government’s efforts have the desired impact at the subnational levels”.
Ultimately, I appeal to PMB to help increase the numbers of PWDs from 50,000 to one million. The federal and state governments should resuscitate those abandoned skills acquisition centers for PWDs and establish others. There are skills that enable every disable person either women or men, so that they can earn money to survive in society and stop begging on the streets.
Mr. Stephen Hawking, who is the most influential scientist of modern times and wheelchair-bond, said, “Disability need not be an obstacle to success”. So, people should stop expecting less of them just because of their disabilities. Besides, I strongly call on members of state houses of assembly of remaining state governments in Nigeria to help pass disable law in their state without further ado.
Mustapha Baba Azare,
Alkali Musa Street,
Azare, Bauchi state