The Nigerian government has said it is set to establish a National Commission for Persons Living with Disabilities to enhance inclusiveness and enable them contribute their quota to national development.
Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, stated this in a keynote address at an event to celebrate International Day for Persons with Disabilities, PWDs, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Promoting the participation of persons with disability and their leadership: Taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.”
Dec. 3 of every year was declared International Day of PWDs by the UN General Assembly following Resolution 43/3 of 14th October, 1992.
Ms Farouq said that disability had been identified as both a right and development, pushing it to the front burner of national development.
She thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for asseting to the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act after 18 years of long struggle.
The Act provides for the full integration of PWDs into the society.
It aims at establishing a National Commission for PWDs that will be vested with the responsibilities for the education, health, social, economic and civil rights of PWDs.
“My priority will be to ensure that the Commission for Persons Living with Disabilities is established in the country,” Ms Farouq declared.
Amina Shamaki, who represented Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said that about 15 per cent of world population are living with some forms of disabilities.
“About 25 million Nigerians live with disabilities. These set of people always face physical, social and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from mixing effectively with other members of the society,” he said.
Sen. Betty Apiafi, Chairperson, Senate Committee on Women Affairs, who represented the Senate President, said that PWDs in Nigeria were competent persons with tremendous abilities that should not be underestimated.
“PWDs must be treated and given the necessary support they need to excel.
“Today is another opportunity to remind ourselves of what we need to do to ensure proper integration of our brothers and sisters with disabilities in the society.
“However, we are happy that the disability bill has been passed into law.
“We believe that with the new law, it will surely make it easy for PWDs to be more involved in leadership and all sectors of our economy,” Ms Apefi said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, admonished Nigerians to change their attitude towards PWDs.
“Our attitude towards them should be the type that will help them realise their potentials. My ministry is willing to support PWDs and all agencies handling activities targeted at giving them a better life,” she said.
High point of the event was the inauguration of the Nigeria People’s Parliament for persons with disabilities.
The event attracted officials from ministries of interior, education, Federal Capital Territory, MTN Foundation, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders.
Copies of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disability (Prohibited) Act, were distributed to participants at the event.