Persons Living with Disability in Niger State have protested over what they called shortchanging of their members from benefiting in the ongoing Special Workers Scheme of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Special Workers Scheme is designed to provide employment for 774,000 Nigerians with 1000 in each of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria. Not less than 25,000 persons are expected to benefit from the Scheme in Niger State.
The Chairman of the Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities in Niger state, Isah Abdullahi, told Newsmen in Mina the State Capital that they would go to any length to lawfully fight for the rights of their members.
Mallam Abdullahi said despite directive from the Federal Government that at least 5 percent slots be given to people with disabilities, only 0.4% has been allocated to them. He also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene towards ensuring that the anomaly is corrected.
Similarly, in a related development, the Association of Layers with Disabilities of Nigeria has appeal to the Enugu state Government and the State House of Assembly to ensure the urgent domestication of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act 2012.
The Association of Layers with Disabilities of Nigeria ALDIN is an umbrella body of all Nigerian lawyers with Disabilities with the aim of providing legal assistance to persons with Disabilities in the country.
Addressing Newsmen in Enugu during a workshop entitled Legal Framework for the Protection of Persons Living with Disabilities, the ALDIN President Mr. Daniel Onwe noted that the National Assembly has long passed the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act, as part of legal instrument to protect their interest in the country.
He however express dismay that Enugu state is among the states that are yet to domesticate the Act and appealed to the leadership of the state to do the needful especially on their right to access physical environment and buildings.
“We find it difficult to access some public buildings”
The coordinator Disability’s Policy and Empowerment, Mr. Sam lamented that their effort since 2010 to ensure the domestication of the act has not been successful.
“In 2010 the bill scaled first reading but getting to the second reading they stopped showing interest …and till today nothing has happened”
A member of ALDIN in Enugu Chief Bright Onowu though commended the Enugu state Governor for offering employment to some persons with Disabilities, pointed out that the domestication of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities Prohibition Act will provide an enabling environment for their members to thrive.
“It will help to shorn alms begging and ensure that disabled people are independent and contribute to the meaningful development of Enugu state.”
The law makers with Disabilities in Nigeria said they will continue to engage relevant authorities until the act is passed into law.
Joined in the struggle is the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD. CCD is a Non-governmental organization that advocates for inclusion and protection of the interests of people with Disabilities in Nigeria.
Earlier this year, the Center held an advocacy calling for the inclusion of persons living with disabilities in Nigeria’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan to enable them maximize their potential.
At a news briefing in Abuja during the Advocacy, the Executive Director of the Center, Mr. David Anyaele, reiterated that the aim of the Center is to promote inclusion and participation in mainstream issues as it concerns citizens with disabilities.
Mr. David expressed worries that majority of the over twenty-five million persons with disabilities in Nigeria are excluded groups in the society who lack access to economic benefits, health care service delivery and other social welfare.
Persons Living with Disabilities in Nigeria are therefore calling on the government at all levels to come to their aid with policies and programs that would tackle their vulnerable nature especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.