Persons with Disability Lament Exclusion from Empowerment Programmes 

By Emmanuel  Ugwu in Umuahia

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) Thursday bemoaned their exclusion from the economic empowerment programmes of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that it had further exacerbated their plight.

The executive director of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele yesterday made known the plight of the PWDs at a press conference in Umuahia where he drew attention of stakeholders to the plight of PWDs since the inception of the Buhari administration.

He named the economic empowerment programmes of the federal government in which PWDs were not accommodated to include conditional cash transfer, N-Power  ( job creation and empowerment programme), government enterprise and empowerment programme (GEEP) and Home grown school feeding .

Anyaele was flanked by leaders of the various disability groups in Abia including Physically Challenged Association of Nigeria, National Association of the Blind, National Association of the Deaf/Dumb, Abino Association and Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria (SCIAN) as he spoke on their plight.

He said that the exclusion of PWDs from participating in governance and partaking in empowerment programmes has continued despite the appointment of senior special assistant to the President on disability matter.

The continued exclusion of persons with disabilities at the federal and state government policies  and programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of Nigeria is making a mockery of the holders of this office (SSA), “ he said.

According to him, the appointment of the SSA by Mr. President was in line with the request PWDs during the 2015 general elections but the appointment has failed to impact on the PWDs as the voice of PWDs was not being heard in government.

“Our observation shows that this appointment is more or less a position designed assist the individual beneficiary as there is no correlation between this appointment and inclusion of citizens with disabilities in governance,” the CCD executive director said.

He also said that the PWDs were not factored into the health initiative of the federal government in revatilising the 109 primary healthcare centres across the 36 states and the FCT as the health programme was targeted at women, under five children and the elderly.

Though he commended the 8th session of the National Assembly for passing into law Nigeria Disability Bill last year Anyaele regretted that the joint conference committee was yet to conclude the harmonization and transmission of the bill for Mr. President to assent to it.

The CCD boss who also reviewed the condition of PWDs in Abia state, noting that while Governor Okezie Ikpeazu deserved commendation for appointing three special assistants on disability matters and has distributed wheel chairs to the physically challenged persons the PWDs have not fared any better in the state.

“A situation whereby individuals appointed as senior special assistant and special assistant to the governor on disability matter have no office, let alone staff to do the job of governor’s appointees is a disdain treatment, a further ridiculing of the disability community in Abia state,” he said.

Anyaele also stated that the Ikpeazu administration had not been fair to blind persons in the state as none of them had been sent to the Nigeria Farm Craft Centre for the Blind for the rehabilitation of the newly blind persons.

“We call on the state government to urgently address the issue of sponsoring Abia blind citizens to Nigeria Farm Craft Centre for Blind for training, rehabilitation and integration into the society,” he said, adding that the governor should send his appointee on disability matter to local and international training programmes to enhance their capacity.

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