AN early confirmation of the appointments of the pioneer executive of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, NCPD, by the Senate is now awaited to enable the new agency start work.
On August 24, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari named Hussaini Kangiwa, Chairman and Abba Ibrahim, Secretary of the new Commission.
Six people living with disabilities, each representing a geopolitical zone in the country, were also appointed members.
They are Oparaku Onyejelam Jaja, Philomena Isioma Konwea, Omopariola Busuyi Oluwasola, Amina Rahma Audu, Esther Andrew Awu and Abba Audu Ibrahim.
The establishment of an agency to care for people living with disabilities, PLWDs, in the country is long overdue. Several times we have drawn attention to the plight of PLWDs. They need social inclusion and empowerment in every facet of human activity.
They have special needs, and every humane society takes special steps to fill those needs.
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It was this realisation that prompted the United Nations to declare December 3 of every year as the International Day of People With Disabilities. Nigeria has made strident efforts to adapt the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, culminating in the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2019, to promote awareness on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
Although previous governments fiddled with legislation aimed at creating an agency to care for PWDs since 1993, it is the current administration that has birthed it. President Buhari went the extra mile to establish the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Now that the NCPD is here, there should be no dull moment.
It will be the Federal Government’s internal clearing house for improved quality of life for these vulnerable Nigerians who are also entitled to full citizenship rights and privileges.
The highly commendable inclusion of PLWDs in the NCPD’s management team should ensure this.
NCPD is expected to formulate and implement policies for the education, health, economic and social development of both physically and mentally challenged Nigerians whose number is currently put at 30 million. The Commission is also mandated to prepare schemes for the promotion of social welfare as well as the uplift and general well-being of persons with disabilities.
Once inaugurated, the NCPD executive members should begin with a social enlightenment programme. The citizenry must be made to understand that disability is neither a curse nor death sentence and any person could become disabled due to an accident or a sickness.
They should be ready to defend the cause of every disabled person anywhere in the country especially with regard to discrimination or neglect.
With adequate financing, we hope Kangiwa’s pioneer team will live up to its mandate towards a better life for Nigerians with special needs.
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