International Youth Day, 2022 : Improving The Inclusion Agenda And ‘Creating A World For All Ages – Part 2
NCPWD under the leadership of Mr. James David Lalu has carried out an impressive number of programs which have elevated and broadened the conversational and conventional bandwidths of Disability Inclusion to a scale and scope undeniably remarkable and refreshingly impactful. To address the issue of access to justice, under the astute leadership of James Lalu the Commission has undertaken collaborative efforts with the Nigerian Police Force to set up Special Disability Desks across all formations of the Force. This effort will ensure that PWDs can readily access justice in the event that their rights are infringed upon, and they need to seek legal redress.
NCPWD has also undertaken measure to expand this effort to all formations and commands of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC as well as the Judiciary, beginning in the first instance with the FCT Judiciary. This would ensure that PWDs are able to seek legal redress in any court of law and at every Law enforcement institution within the FCT Judiciary. NCPWD will also work to expand this intervention to all 36 states of the federation to ensure that PWDs no longer live with the fear of repression or abuse of their fundamental rights.
Legal aid and support services are also being made cost-effective, accessible, and affordable to PWDs with the extension of increased escalated training on Paralegal services to caches of PWDs at community levels.
Considering that the ability to work and earn a living is critical to being able to afford other necessities of life, it is easy to see how Access to employment takes the cake on many fronts every time disability inclusion is brought to the fore. For most PWDs, the journey to self-realization have been strained and tumultuous because many simply cannot find work even when they possess the necessary qualifications required to perform well and efficiently carry out responsibilities in the work environment. It is undeniable that the unemployment situation in the country is of gargantuan proportions and there seems to be no solution in sight for the millions of unemployed graduates. The situation is however, increasingly more dire for PWDs who are beset by twice the burden of dealing with unemployment and the social and institutional prejudice that pervades the perceived capacity of the average PWD to deliver if presented with a chance to work. In reality, there are countless glowing reports of the astonishing level of efficiency, diligence and superb work ethics that PWDs bring to the table every chance they get to work.
Thankfully, NCPWD with the support of its supervisory Minister of Humanitarian affairs Disaster Management and Social Development Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq and the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF has spearheaded the process of easing the employability issues that PWDs faced.
Today, by virtue of a circular from the OSGF to the effect that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government must adhere to the 5% employment quota stipulation for PWDs as provided for in the Disability Law, PWDs can rest assured that Access to employment for them is now achievable.
To sufficiently address the challenges of inaccessible public infrastructure, NCPWD with technical support from Sightsavers has also made significant progress in developing a Minimum Accessibility Standard document which will serve as a guide for ensuring that all public facilities are modified such that they become accessible for PWDs. This document which is in its completion phase is expected to be ratified by the Federal Executive Council and adopted as a national working document in the coming months.
NCPWD has also made incursions into the educational sector and has engaged with the Ministry of Education and relevant agencies therein on the need to address Access to education for PWDs. Chief amongst the progresses made in this regard is the development of an extensive, research-based curriculum on Disability studies for tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The Commission collaborated severally with the National Universities Commission, NUC, National Commission for Colleges of Education, NCCE and the National Commission for Polytechnic on this project with the aim to roll out a General Study Course on Disability for students of the various institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
This project will birth a canon of academic study and drum home the imperative of assuring a more equal and more inclusive society. NCPWD has also embarked on an extensive engagement and partnership with a number of higher institutions including the University of Ilorin, Uthman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto and the Federal University of Technology, Akure to ensure that inclusiveness and accessibility become ground norm within the tertiary education system in Nigeria.
On Access to Healthcare for PWDs, the James Lalu led NCPWD has engaged relevant healthcare agencies such as the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS among others to ensure that the basic health services PWDs require are adequately provided for.
With particular focus on confronting the consequences of the COVID pandemic on PWDs, NCPWD engaged with the Nigerian Centre for Diseases Control, NCDC to ensure that PWDs were prioritised in the rollout of COVID Vaccines and were able to access the facilities where the vaccines jabs were administered.
These are a few of the many initiatives that have found expression in the two years since Mr. James David Lalu took office as the first ever Chief Executive of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
Without doubt, it is clear to the discerning and obvious to the observant that the clamour which birthed the Disability Act and the various efforts and input of the many leading voices in the disability inclusion space have found a cohesive force in the giant strides of NCPWD and its leadership and management. Indeed, one is hard pressed to imagine a reason why the overarching goal of making Nigeria an inclusive, accessible and discrimination-free society will not be accomplished in a not-so distant time from now.
We must believe as do all pro-inclusion supporters and advocates, that the shared vision and desire to see a Nigeria where equality is assured to all irrespective of their impairment and or disability is possible and more so in our lifetime!
*NCPWD. . . Different but EQUAL!!!*
*MEDIA AND PUBLICITY UNIT NCPWD, IN COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY, 2022*