The National Population Commission of Nigeria (NPC) has estimated that no fewer than 19 million persons are living with disabilities in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), announced this during the 73rd UN General Assembly General Discussion of Agenda 28 on Social Development at the UN headquarters in New York.
The World Bank estimates that one billion people, or 15 per cent of the world’s population, experience some form of disabilities and the prevalence is higher for developing countries.
The population chief said Nigeria had existing policy that reserved certain percentage of vacancies for the disabled, adding the corporate organisations were also encouraged to reserve two per cent for the disabled population.
“As a result, government is implementing measures to promote and enhance the entrepreneurial skills of many of our 19 million Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
“This is executed through training in various vocations and provision of relevant tools to enable them to embark on economic ventures of their choice.
“Furthermore, corporate organisations in Nigeria are encouraged to reserve two per cent of their vacancies to PWDs in support of the existing policy in the public sector.”
He said Nigeria recognised the importance of implementing policies that bridge social inequality gap through poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and decent work that target especially the disability population.
“As part of our commitment to the continuous implementation of the relevant provisions of the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law the National Senior Citizen Act 2018 early this year.
“The Act mandates all tiers of government, including institutions in the country, to establish National Senior Citizens Centres to ensure proper care, training, integration, orientation and re-orientation of senior citizens.
“This highlights the need for, and ensuring full utilisation of potential and expertise of the elderly, while recognising the benefits of increased experience through age, as well as strengthening intergenerational solidarity,” Duruiheoma said.
Similarly, a pre-retirement vocational training is being provided to officers prior to disengagement from the public service to enhance investment of retirement benefits and guarantee income security as a means of eradicating poverty, he said.
“Waivers are also extended to treatment provided for the elderly in government hospitals in some states in the country,” the Nigerian population chief said.
He said Nigeria’s recently-revised National Population Policy now accorded special attention to ageing and the aged, and provided strategies for improving their welfare through investment in healthy ageing and integration into life-long learning programmes.
He added that the Nigerian Government remained irreversibly committed to implementing social policies that impacted positively on the lives and well-being of all Nigerians, regardless of social status, creed and affiliations.
“This is based on President Muhammadu Buhari’s conviction that the implementation of people-centred and all-inclusive sustainable development policies remain a strong parameter for measuring the success of any credible government,” he said.
He explained that Nigeria had begun implementation of an ambitious three-year medium-term economic development strategy: ‘Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP)’.
Duruiheoma said the ERGP would fast-track the realisation of the objectives of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the overarching social-economic goals of Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
“Fundamentally, EGRP was designed to place the country’s economy on a trajectory of upward growth, sound social infrastructure, global competitiveness, as well as ensuring environmental sustainability for all Nigerians.
He said a National Social Investment Office has been established within the Office of the Vice President, to guarantee effective coordination, implementation and to facilitate access to a broad range of social development opportunities and benefits for all citizens.
Duruiheoma said a potent feature of the social welfare programmes related to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, saying it had continued to provide monthly stipends to one million poor and vulnerable households in Nigeria.
He said a veritable component of the CCT was the concept of ‘Market Money’, disbursting micro credit loans with a zero interest rate to another batch of one million market traders across Nigeria.
“Bridging youth empowerment inequality through provision of jobs and development of innovative ideas is at the very core of our government policies and programmes.
“Consequently, the N-Power Youth Employment Scheme, created to facilitate employment generation for a total of 500,000 graduates in the country, has successfully deployed over 400,000 graduates to the agricultural, health and teaching sectors all over the country.
“The non-graduate component that targets annual employment of 100,000 artisans has also created jobs for more than 30,000 youth till date,” Duruiheoma said.
He said the Nigerian Government was scaling up the creation of innovative hubs through the establishment of technological smart villages across the country to unleash the innovative potential of youth and bridge the technology divide in the country.
Duruiheoma said in terms of mainstreaming youth into all aspects of governance, Buhari had created the Office of Special Adviser on Youth Matters and signed into law the ‘Not-Too-Young-To-Run’ bill.
“This has undoubtedly triggered more interests from the Nigerian youth population in the office of the President in the coming presidential election in February 2019,” he said.
He pledged Nigeria’s usual cooperation to the global community, adding the country remained committed to its international obligations, programmes and strategies that promoted social development for citizens. (NAN)