Association laments government neglect of physically challenged persons

19 million Nigerians afflicted with various disabilities

The Nigeria Association of the Blind has accused President Goodluck Jonathan and his predecessors of playing politics with issues affecting persons with disabilities for the past 13 years, after the return of civil rule to the country.

The National Youth Leader of the association’s chapter in Plateau State, Afolabi Ayodeji, said this while speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on the challenges facing persons with disabilities in Nigeria on the occasion of World Disability Day, which is marked every December 3 as declared by the United Nations.

Mr. Ayodeji noted with regret that government had no regard for the plight of the millions of Nigerians with disabilities.

“It’s unfortunate that the bill on persons with disabilities has been hanging at the National Assembly for the past 13 years without the president assenting to the bill to make into law,” he said.

He noted that the situation was the same at state level. He said that in Plateau State, the only law favouring physically challenged persons, which was passed since 2005, had not been put into effect. The law aimed at providing employment for educated persons with disability.

Mr. Ayodeji stressed that members of his association in the state were suffering, following the recent closure of two rehabilitation centers due to lack of funds for the past seven months.

Commenting on the arrest and lock up of street beggars in Abuja and some other major cities in Nigeria including Lagos, Mr. Ayodeji said the association did not encourage begging among its members. He, however, deemed the action of the government in those states as wicked since alternative sources of income were not provided for the street beggars.

The youth leader requested that scholarship be provided for children of the physically challenged to enable them live better lives than their parents.

He revealed that in Nigeria, only Jigawa State had a special monthly allowance for physically challenged persons.

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