Government pledges 74,000 jobs for physically challenged groups

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the economy

The Federal Government says at least 74,000 jobs would be created under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Scheme (SURE) to physically challenged persons and other vulnerable groups in the country as part of the support for their creative talents and contributions to national development.

Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister for the economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said at an interactive forum with the Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities (JONAPWD) that it would want to see a collaboration with other ministries, particularly the Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development as well as Trade and Investment to ensure that vulnerable groups in the country are provided the needed support towards self-actualisation and fulfillment as other Nigerians.

The minister said the 74,000 jobs, which account for 20 per cent of the 370,000 jobs to be created in the Public Works component of the SURE programme, would be targeted at both the skilled and unskilled in the vulnerable community, adding that 10,000 of these would be devoted to youths nationwide.

She directed the national coordinator of the public works segment of SURE to immediately incorporate persons living with disabilities into his programme and furnish her with progress report before a follow-up forum gets underway in six months’ time.

 “By seeing and incorporating you into the SURE Programme, nobody is doing you a favour. It is in the best interest of this country that everybody gets an opportunity to contribute to its development and the society loses by excluding you or any other segment”, the minister said.

Recalling the example of President Frederick D Roosevelt, the only American President to serve four terms in spite of living with a disability and others in the country who are doing well as political leaders in the country, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, described his example as an “eloquent lesson” of the benefits that society stands to gain if people living with disabilities are given a chance.

The minister praised the Governor of Nasarawa State, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and a member representing Dutse Constituency in the Jigawa State House of Assembly, Shu’aibu Jigawar-Tsada, who despite their physical challenges have been doing well as political leaders worthy of emulation in the country.

She said the vulnerable groups, particularly the physically challenged, were “some of the most inspiring segments of the Nigerian community”, for their resilience in the face of enormous odds, adding that considering the difficulties encountered in daily life by persons living without disabilities, what some Nigerians living with disabilities have achieved so far was amazing.

On the request by the National President of the association, Danlami Basharu, for a quick passage of the draft disabilities bill into law, the minister promised to table the request at the Presidency.  She 

also promised to consider the request of the association for disability-friendly Mass Transit bus scheme run by persons with disabilities, and give it a push at the appropriate quarters of government in order to ease their transportation challenges.

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