The fight for justice and equality irrespective of physical condition was one that was spearheaded by organisations both governmental and nongovernmental organisations as well as activists based on the untold hardship encountered by People Living With Disability PLWD in the course of their daily encounter within and around the society.
Many are stigmatised, discriminated against even by friends and family members and do not get equal opportunities as their contemporaries while many are hidden behind doors by their families, making many beggars and dependent on handouts from others.
This led to the revolution and advocacy for the promulgation of laws that can ensure that their lives will be comfortable as well as it can be while many law suits were filed by many activists to ensure that PLWD can attain their dreams without facing undue challenges in the society through provision of amenities that will aid their activities towards developing themselves to be responsible and independent citizens in the country.
Indeed, it is not too much to ask. Even the law is conscious of this; a Charter of the United Nations provides for the inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights of all members of the human society as the bedrock of freedom, justice, development and peace globally though this seems not to be respected within many communities in Nigeria.
This is the reason that many activists have been fighting for a law that will aid the cause of PLWD since the inception of democracy, and gradually the present administration is showing very high level of commitment and concern to the extent that the Federal Government has shown willingness to increase the intake of PLWD into the Federal civil service.
Converged in Abuja were People Living With Disability drawn from across the country by the Federal Government to give necessary empowerment and sign pacts of inclusiveness and real integration into the society to shun all forms of discrimination against them as clearly demonstrated by the conference on baseline survey.
Inaugurating the conference in Abuja, as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the International Day with Persons with Disabilities, the Federal Government has assured of an increase in the recruitment quota of PWDs to 10 per cent.
Dr Samuel Ankeli, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disability Matters disclosed this at the official inauguration of the Baseline Survey of PWD..
Ankeli urged PWDs to come up with a memo, while assuring that relevant actions would be taken to improve the lives of the people.
He said: “It has been observed that those who are educated enough for employment have not been given a fair share of the Federal Civil Service openings.
“It is a normal government procedure to improve policies where need be.
“It’s a policy decision and the Head of Service with her team will prepare a document for the attention of the President to see how we can do things as urgently as possible.
“This will help us to improve the recruitment quota of PWDs from the negligible two per cent to 10 per cent.
Also, Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation, said the theme was apt as it spelt out the objectives of the baseline survey of PWDs employed in the Federal Civil Service.
Oyo-Ita noted that the survey would go a long way to reassure PWDs in the service that issues of their welfare are on the front burner.
She said the survey was meant to position the officers to integrate PWDs for national development.
The Head of Service added that the project, which is a pilot project, would be conducted in the office.
According to her, the project will subsequently be extended to other Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the states.
She said the time is ripe to begin effective planning for the future of PWDs in the service and the ultimate goal is the development of a comprehensive policy to address the challenges.
She said: “The launch is expected to provide the aggregated data of PWDs in the civil service, in order to enable the service welfare to design a programme that tackles the challenges.
“To create more opportunities for PWDs to get into job and full range effective service, sustainable change will be realized when all concerned are empowered.
“The Federal Government is working to lessen inequality in the society; the office will also continue to provide PWDs with requirements to work effectively in a conducive environment.”
Oyo-Ita promised to work with international partners to leverage and support the efforts of the Federal Government to meet the needs of the PWDs.
However, the HOS office had at various meetings with PWD outlined robust plans of government as contained in the conventions, for sustainable inclusiveness of the physically challenged Nigerians to have equal stake in governance and public administration.
The expectations are that government plan of action to get the physically challenged involved effectively into the society including the rights to vote and be voted for has Presidential node as clearly demonstrated by the Head of Service and Presidential aide on disability.
The functionality of the public service has no design for specific class of personnel, as the brain is the center of all activities, and it hardly detects who is disable, but attention and concentration.
–Chidi, wrote in from Abuja
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