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….Say PWDs can contribute to country’s GDP

By Ebunoluwa Sessou

The Nigerian Business Disability Network (NBDN) has emphasised the need to respect the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace, saying this would uphold the country’s values of dignity, respect and generosity.

  It lamented that some of these values have been sidelined thereby relegating the inclusion efforts, even though the collective duty is to ensure the efforts are reignited.

 Chairperson, NBDN, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan stated this at the Nigeria Diversity and Inclusion Conference, tagged: ‘Eliminating Barriers against Inclusive Workplaces in the Private Sector,’ held to commemorate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, in Lagos.

 She stated that Nigeria is still in the infant stage of promoting a comprehensive and coordinated manner toward disability inclusion, whether with human rights or sustainable development.

According to her, “The 2018 legislative action has triggered a response across the country, one of which is this network, committed to raise awareness and stand as the voice of the private sector for disability inclusion in Nigeria.

 “Although, most of our members are still on the journey to assess and bridge the gaps regarding disability inclusion in our workplaces, we are glad to see some semblance of progress. In my organization, we took the first step in carrying out a voluntary disability-ready assessment with the support of Sightsavers Nigeria, a fellow member of the Network.

“This gives us an honest picture of where we are and shows where we need to improve in line with global best practices and local regulations”, she said.

   In his keynote address, Disability Inclusion  Consultant World Bank Group, Nigeria, Dr. Adebukola Adebayo lamented that 0.2 percent of persons with disabilities are gainfully employed adding that a number of them go through barriers.

He stressed the need to create opportunities for everyone without discrimination, adding that when companies employ people with disabilities, they are more secured and responsible.

Lamenting the challenges, he said, knowledge and awareness are the biggest challenge. While communication barrier is another aspect aside attitudinal, institutional and environmental. Adding that, there are many corporate communication flows that did not consider people with disabilities.

His words: “People with disabilities will profit more on a virtual environment working process with the use of assistive technology as well as provision of workplace therapist.

“The potential benefits in employing people with disabilities are that they are focused and resilient on the job thereby making the company improve on productivity and investment”, he added.

He however called on government at all levels to do more around media disabilities awareness campaign.

Also speaking, Executive Secretary, National Disability Commission, James Lalu, applauded the initiative taken by various private sectors to collaborate in the diversity inclusion saying discussing the issues around disabilities and contribute to their welfare would guarantee their protection and promotion.

   “We are going to collaborate with NBDN to make sure that the idea planted is passed across the federation.

“Disabilities community are on the streets and for us, we are expected to launch the presidential special intervention programme for persons with disability which would bring about skill acquisition program.

“We have submitted the list of persons with disabilities to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and Bank of Industry, is also coming up with beautiful initiative to strengthen industrialization for persons with disabilities with assistive devices among others.

“We will have massive empowerment programme for persons with disabilities especially the people on the street.

“It is painful to use persons with disabilities to make business. We are collaborating with the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba. to deal with the issue. We are training the police in the whole federation in this regard”

In his reaction, Executive Director, Project Enable, Olusola Owonikoko harped on the need for promoting inclusion for disabilities in the workplace, saying this would contribute to the Gross Domestic Products of the country.

“Over the years, we have been promoting inclusive employment and we believe that the network provides a better platform where Private Sector can collaborate to help one another to drive disability Inclusion especially in the workplace.

“The biggest message from the conference is that there is productivity in disability and persons with disabilities can add immerse value to economy at national, companies’ level, we can influence bottom-line.

“Discrimination is out dated. Let us give persons with disabilities equal chance based on what they are able to do and if we continue to do this, we will see that through diversity and inclusion, we can drive value collectively for ourselves and organisations”, he stated.

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