Toba Owojaiye reporting
The Federal Government of Nigeria has unveiled an empowerment program designed to uplift millions of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) nationwide. This groundbreaking initiative, launched by Dr. Betta Edu, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, aims to address historical neglect and provide tangible support to this segment of the population.
The core of the program involves a 10% allocation from all Federal Government humanitarian and social safety interventions specifically for PLWDs. Dr. Edu emphasized this commitment during the launch at the Art and Culture Conference Hall in Abuja. Notably, PLWDs are set to benefit from various existing programs, including End Hunger, Conditional Cash Transfer, N-power, Renewed Hope Shelters, Geep, and CODE NIGERIA.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s perspective on PLWDs was highlighted by Dr. Edu, who stated that he views them not as Persons With Disabilities but as individuals with special abilities. Commending the President for signing the African Charter on the Protection of the Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities, Dr. Edu also praised the National Assembly for legislative efforts ensuring PLWDs have a voice in national affairs.
Truth Live News reports that the novel empowerment program extends beyond rhetoric, with tangible support mechanisms. PLWDs received Point of Sale (POS) machines and a N100,000 operational capital. Tertiary education scholarships of N130,000 each were announced, alongside a N20 million annual grant to the Association of Persons Living with Disabilities in Nigeria.
Furthermore, Dr. Edu detailed the government’s commitment to training PLWDs in business development, facilitating business registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and establishing a link with the Bank of Industry. This link opens avenues for low-interest loans of up to 1 billion Naira, aiming to enhance businesses and contribute to job creation.
However, amidst these opportunities, Dr. Edu cautioned against misuse, emphasizing strict government monitoring. The Minister described the program as a beacon of hope, aligning with President Tinubu’s vision of pulling 50 million Nigerians, including PLWDs, out of poverty within 42 months.
Speaking in support, Dr. James Lalu, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons With Disabilities, credited the impactful leadership of Dr. Edu for changing the narrative. He highlighted the full implementation of the Disability Act, aligning with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.
Alhaji Abah Isah, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Disabilities, assured PLWDs of a bright future under Dr. Betta Edu’s stewardship. The National Assembly echoed this commitment, with Hon. Bashiru Dauda emphasizing the protection of rights and the prohibition of discrimination against Persons with disabilities.
The presence of representatives from the Bank of Industry and Corporate Affairs Commission signaled practical steps, registering and opening new businesses for PLWDs. As the government takes strides towards inclusivity, the message is clear – empower individuals, foster independence, and create a society where no one is left behind.