The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Dr Betta Edu, says Federal Government has dedicated 10 per cent of its various social interventions to the support of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Nigeria.
Edu said this while inaugurating various empowerment programmes sponsored by the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) in Abuja.
She said President Bola Tinubu had directed that the disability community should be given priority in all intervention programmes of government.
She added that “Mr President has instructed that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation should dedicate 10 per cent of all humanitarian and poverty alleviation interventions to persons with disabilities across the country.
“Today is the launch of the empowerment of people living with disabilities. Remember that we are doing conditional cash transfers for 15 million households and out of this figure, 10 per cent is reserved for the disability community.
“So, we are happy and very proud of the disability commission for pushing on all fronts to ensure that the Renewed Hope Agenda is actually achieved.
“We are providing POS mechines to persons with disability across all the senatorial districts in Nigeria so that they can be the last mile distributors of this funds to people living in villages and hard to reach areas,” she said.
The minister also announced the donation of N100,000 to each beneficiary of the POS machines to help them kick start their businesses.
“We have also provided not just the POS machines, but the N100,000 capital for them.
“We also gave N130,000 as award of scholarship to physically challenged students in tertiary institutions.
“Beyond this, we have also been able to bring officials of the Corporate Affairs Commission here to carry out proper registration of their businesses, where N20 million has so far been released for that purpose to enable them get to the grassroots.
“Rather than begging, they will be running businesses that will empower them, their society and everyone around them.
“We are having several other interventions like giving out of grants to associations that deal with disabilities.”
Edu also said that the Federal Government is committed to supporting the educational needs of Nigerians, including persons with disabilities.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the commission, Mr James Lalu, said that the gesture was aimed at empowering the disability community in Nigeria to become economically self-reliant.
Lalu, who commended the commitment of the Tinubu-led administration for supporting the efforts of the commission in alleviating the plight of persons with disabilities, urged the minister to sustain the tempo.
He urged relevant authorities to expedite action toward ensuring social inclusion of persons with disabilities in the scheme of things.
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Disabilities, Mr Bashiru Dauda, assured commitment to ensuring effective legal framework to protecting the right of PwDs in Nigeria.
Dauda said that the National Assembly would continue to provide enabling laws that would see to the robust social inclusion of persons with disabilities across the country.
“Disability issues is all about inclusion and we in the House have approved the use of sign language because we are saddled with the responsibility of advocating the rights of PwDs.
“We have already enacted a law that mandate institutions and organisations to allocate five per cent employment opportunities to persons with disabilities,” he said.
Dauda, therefore, urged the PwDs to stay strong and keep hopes alive.
Mrs Ruth Ofomo, the representative from Bank of Industry (BOI) said the bank had provided a micro credit of N10 million to small scale businesses.
Ofomo said the loan should be accessed without any form of discrimination and urged members of the disability community to feel free and come forward to access the loan to boost their businesses.
On his part, Mr Abba Isa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters, said that there are about 31 million persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
Isa expressed the need for stakeholders to support efforts toward ensuring their inclusion and participation in governance and other social interventions.
Our correspondent reports that the event featured presentation of scholarship awards to some students living with disabilities.
It was also reported that beneficiaries were given POS start-up funds and kits, as well as a cheque of N5 million to the joint Association of Persons with Disabilities in Nigeria, while N2 million was also given to Association of Persons with Albinism.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to NAN expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and promised to utilise the opportunity to better their lives.