Mr. James Lalu, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD), revealed that over 35.1 million Nigerians are presently living with disabilities. Mr. Lalu shared this shocking statistic while attending a day event in Owerri dedicated to distributing permanent certificates to individuals with disabilities residing in the south-eastern region. Mr. Ikem Uchegbulam, the acting Director of Compliance and Enforcement of the commission, who represented the NCPWD boss, revealed that the provided statistic is derived from a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
He stated that the objective of the initiative was to raise awareness among individuals with disabilities regarding the advantages of obtaining certification, aligning with the provisions of Section 28 in the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities Act. In situations where a person experiences a brief incapacitation in utilising a specific body part, temporary disability certificates can be obtained from medical professionals. However, for long-lasting disabilities, the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) is responsible for issuing permanent disability certificates.
Access to their constitutional rights will be provided.
Furthermore, he stated that individuals who possess a valid disability certificate are the only ones capable of acquiring and asserting their rights under the Act. Therefore, it is imperative for all affected individuals to obtain this certificate. Lalu further emphasised that the certificate serves not only as a form of identification but also as a mandatory prerequisite for seeking legal redress. Consequently, it is indispensable to possess this certificate in order to access legal remedies provided by the law court.
According to the data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of individuals with disabilities in Nigeria stands at about 35.1 million. In light of this, the commission is steadfast in its commitment to guaranteeing that these individuals have full access to their constitutional rights. The gathering witnessed the presence of various groups from the Joint National Association of Persons With Disabilities, encompassing individuals who are visually impaired, deaf, and those with speech impairments.
The scarcity of effective leadership results in unnecessary suffering.
Similarly, Presidential candidate Peter Obi, representing the Labour Party, also urged for enhanced assistance to Nigerian citizens with disabilities on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In a message through his X account, Obi passionately emphasised the necessity of providing these individuals, who bear no responsibility for their conditions, with a more inclusive and supportive nation. Having a disability should not result in one’s life being deemed worthless or society labelling them negatively. Instead, it ought to serve as a catalyst that reminds us of the inherent compassion we should extend towards our fellow human beings.
Obi lamented the challenging circumstances in a society where effective leadership is scarce, resulting in unnecessary suffering. Amongst those most affected are individuals with disabilities, who find themselves struggling even more as life becomes increasingly hard for them. Based on statistical data from the World Health Organization, he emphasised the imperative of the government’s responsibility to support an extensive populace, ensuring their ability to experience a fulfilled life and actively contribute towards national progress. These individuals will flourish and unlock their true capabilities by granting access to healthcare and education.
Necessary support will be given to individuals with disabilities.
Lastly, at the event, Mrs. Nkechi Ugwu, the Imo Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, expressed her gratitude to the commission for its tireless work in improving the situation of persons with disabilities. In her absence, Mrs. Ozioma Nwigwe, who is the Director of Administration and Finance within the ministry, stood on her behalf. Mrs. Ugwu reassured that the Imo Government remains committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of individuals living with disablement within the state.