President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to play its roles adequately to enable the government to realise its objective of lifting 100 million citizens out of poverty.
The president gave the charge on Thursday at the State House, Abuja, when he received members of the newly established Governing Council of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
He said: “I am enjoining you as a team of the commission to realise that your work forms a critical aspect in achieving the objective of our administration to removing 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
“I am, therefore, looking forward to commissioning projects and programmes of high impact to the disabled community in line with this vision.
“Your appointments were no mistake as you were all selected after careful evaluation and assessment of your good conduct and contribution to the society and the disabled community in Nigeria.
“The task before you is enormous. You must work diligently towards ensuring that government is able to touch the lives of our fellow citizens with special needs despite our limited resources.”
The president said that his administration would continue to give effect to treaties that give inclusivity to persons with disabilities.
According to Buhari, Nigeria is a signatory and a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which seeks to promote the inclusion of persons with special needs in all development efforts globally.
He, therefore, pledged that his administration would continue to give effect to all global, regional and sub-regional treaties that seek to improve the lives of the disadvantaged citizens.
The president expressed delight that the commission was finally in place having been an issue during his campaigns.
“In December 2014, during my campaign for the President of this country under our great party, I met with the Community of Persons with Special Needs who showed unalloyed loyalty and support for our party and my candidature in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
“I recall that the most pressing and priority request from the community was the passage of the disability bill and the subsequent presidential assent which I promised them I shall do. I am happy to have fulfilled that promise,” he said.
Buhari commended some governors who had enacted laws on disability and enjoined others who had not to do the needful.
“I thank the Governors of Plateau, Lagos and Nasarawa States for enacting disability laws and establishing Disability Rights Commissions in their states.
“I am calling on Governors of Yobe, Kano and Kogi States to implement their laws while those states that are yet to do so should take necessary action to enable Federal Government efforts have the desired impact at the subnational levels,” he said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouq, who led the team, noted that people with disabilities, local and non-governmental organisations and the international community had been commending the president for the establishment of the commission.
She requested the president to direct that buildings in public places such as airports, motor parks and schools be made accessible to persons with disabilities in Nigeria (although it has been captured in the Act).
She also requested for technologies to aid people with disabilities in their educational pursuits.
The minister added that her ministry had ensured that people with disabilities had access to palliatives from the ministry and were also included in its social investment programmes.
Umar-Farouq, who also fielded questions from State House correspondents at the end of the event, disclosed that about two million Nigerians had been displaced as a result of insurgency, banditry and communal clashes.
She said: “Well, as at today, we have over two million displaced persons in the country, ranging from those displaced by insurgency, armed banditry, communal clashes.
“The mandate of the ministry is to provide effective communication of national and international humanitarian interventions, ensure strategic disaster education and response as well as to formulate and implement policies and programmes geared towards social protection and inclusion of our citizens.
“The ministry is doing its best to see that people who are displaced in this country are given the necessary support by way of supporting their livelihoods, rebuild their homes in areas of disasters and settling those who have fled their places seeking for refuge, provided their communities are safe for them to return.
“This is what we are working and we hope to achieve the desired result.’’
The Chairman of the Governing Council of the commission, Dr Hussaini Kangiwa, told newsmen that they were in the Presidential Villa on a “thank you’’ visit to the president for his support to the country’s disability community.