Senate urges Buhari to provide five-yr post-COVID intervention for disabled Nigerians

The Senate, on Tuesday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to provide a five-year post COVID-19 special intervention programme for Nigerians living with various types of disabilities.

This was just as it urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank, to provide  Special Loan facilities to Persons with Disabilities through the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

The Chamber also called on security agencies to retain and convert personnel who became disabled in the course of discharging their duties than retiring them.

In addition, it also urged the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) and Boards of Parastatals to give special consideration to Persons with Disability during recruitment exercise to give effect to the Legislative intent of the Discrimination against Persons with Disability (Prohibition Act, 2018).

These formed part of the resolutions reached after the upper chamber considered a motion titled, “Urgent need to provide Special Presidential Interventions for the persons living with disabilities in Nigeria.”

Sponsor of the motion, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba Central), in his presentation, commended President Mohammadu Buhari for signing into law, the Discrimination against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act, 2018, and further establishing the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities as a fulfillment of one of his campaign promises.

The lawmaker, however, expressed concern that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, about 29 million of the 195 million people who comprise the Nigerian National population were people with disability.

According to him, “recent reality on the activities of insurgency, banditry, indiscriminate mining activities and pollutions from the explorations of hydrocarbon resources (Oil Spills) are particularly causing children to be home with deformities in the Niger-Delta region.”

He added that, “the recurrent accidents recorded on our roads and other related social ills has made Nigeria to witness a surge in the communities of people with disabilities and they are gradually becoming a strong political constituency who in the nearest future can determine the future leadership of Nigeria;

“Worried that the increase of our men and women in the front line of duties in fighting for the unity and survival of our nation has increased the transition into the communities of people living with disability;

“Disturbed that the effects of covid-19 and above mentioned issues on people living with disabilities have further exposed the underlying inequalities and discriminatory practice faced by people living with disability in our country, thereby leading to increase in Poverty; and

“Further disturbed that despite the various laudable interventions such as N-Power, Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), Conditional Cash Transfer, Special Public Works (SPW) etc. by the Federal Government in reducing poverty and cushioning the effect of covid-19, the community of the people living with disabilities have not felt the impact because of the unfriendly conditions attached to the process.”

Accordingly, the Senate in its resolutions urged President Buhari to provide a five-year post COVID-19 special intervention programme in areas of: Mass distribution of Assistive devices to include wheelchairs, prosthesis and orthotics, hearing aids, crutches, Braille machines, special computers, skin protector, among others.

The upper chamber, posited that doing so would provide access to education; independent living for disabled Nigerians; and facilitate effective inclusion and participation in development activities.

In addition, the Senate called on the Federal Government to undertake the design and construction of accessibility facilities in all Federal Government institutions, city roads, pedestrian walkways and public facilities, including airports, railway stations, motor parks, schools, universities etc.

It also demanded the revitalisation of all rehabilitation facilities and special schools in the six geo-political zones across the country.

While urging all Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) to provide at least 10% of their projects  and programs for persons with disabilities through the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; the chamber called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank, to provide  Special Loan facilities to Persons with Disabilities through the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

It also urged the security agencies to ensure that in an event where personnel in the course of discharging their official assignment become disabled, the security agency should retain and convert the affected personnel to less demanding task than retiring them. While the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities shall provide the affected personnel with the  assistive device; and

The Chamber tasked the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities under the supervision of the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to implement the Senate resolutions.

The Senate, accordingly, also urged the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) and Boards of Parastatals to give special consideration to Persons with Disability during recruitment exercise to give effect to the Legislative intent of the Discrimination against Persons with Disability (Prohibition Act, 2018).