Persons with disabilities decry govt neglect, demand 5% of N5bn palliative

THE National Association of Persons with Physical Disabilities (NAPWPD) has demanded a five per cent share of the N5 billion palliative approved by the Federal government for states and the federal capital territory (FCT) to address the impact of the fuel subsidy removal already taking a toll on the lots of the masses.

Its national president, Rilwan Mohammed, requested this in a statement on Saturday, August 19, according to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria.

Mohammed asserted that persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neglected and not being carried along in the decision to support the states with relief funds.

The ICIR reported that the Federal government had on Thursday, August 17, approved an N5 billion palliative for the 36 federation states, including the FCT, which amounts to N185 billion.

President Bola Tinubu had, during his inauguration speech on May 29, said fuel subsidy was gone.

Since the declaration, the pump price of fuel has jumped from about N185 to over N600 per litre, increasing transport fares and costs of food items and throwing many households into severe hardship.

The NAPWPD president’s appeal indicates that N250 million of the fund be allocated to persons with disabilities across each state, which will invariably amount to N9.25 billion, including the FCT.

He said the demand was in tandem with the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Prohibition Act.

Section 25 of the Disability Law provides that in situations of risk or humanitarian emergencies, PWDs should be accorded preference and protection.

“The disability law provides for a sharing formula to accommodate PWDs, who are usually excluded when they are lumped with other people during the allocation of relief support.

“It is to address this problem that we are asking for five per cent to be allocated to PWDs in line with the provision of the law,” Mohammed said.

According to him, there is a need to provide a precise template or clarity on how marginalised groups like the PWDs would be accommodated in the utilisation of the N5 billion palliative.

Mohammed said the association is “extremely disturbed and sorely worried” over the suffering of its members due to the fuel subsidy removal.

“The impact of the removal has continued to have a debilitating impact on PWDs who are largely poor and vulnerable.

“The inability of PWDs to afford decent food, healthcare and necessities of life has been compounded and made worse with the recent situation in the country.

“Our members now find it difficult to access public transport as the transport system is largely inaccessible and unaffordable to members of the disability community,” he said.

He further decried the rapid multiplier effect of the fuel subsidy removal, which has shut the price of goods and services to the rooftop, adding that the development was making life unbearable for people experiencing poverty, particularly physically challenged persons.

Calling on the governments to tackle the challenges of public transportation, he said the public transport system should be made accessible to PWDs, demanding that buses and other means of transportation be fitted with adjustable ramps and handrails for wheelchair users.

“The vehicles should also be fitted with signage and electronic display for directions with audio announcements for the benefit of the deaf and the blind.

“All these are provided for in the disability law. Our demands, therefore, are not based on charity requests but consistent with legal provisions,” Mohammed added.

Global concern

According to the World Health Organisation, persons with disabilities face all kinds of inhumane treatment, including finding inaccessible and unaffordable transportation 15 times more difficult than those without disabilities.

As of 2020, there are reportedly over 27 million Nigerians with some form of disability.

Dataphyte, a media research and data analytics organisation, showed that about one in every eight Nigerians live with at least one form of disability. 

The most common of these disabilities are visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, intellectual impairment, and communication impairment.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 10 aims to reduce inequality by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including persons with disabilities. At the same time, its Goal 11 would make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. 

However, social protection for disabled people in Nigeria is still relatively weak, Dataphyte stated.

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